The hits keep coming for Big Tobacco and Smoking

On December 1st it becomes mandatory for all cigarette packets to be in plain, drab, olive packaging in Australia. It has been phasing in over some time and in spite of rumoured legal action tomorrow is D-day. There was a lot of rhetoric when it was announced suggesting it wouldn’t make any difference and it was a personal choice so we were becoming a nanny state and much more. From the initial results it may be having a more significant impact that expected.

According to a report in the Herald Sun:

Advice group Quitline and Facebook fan sites have been inundated with comments saying their smokes taste “pathetic”, “sickening” and lack flavour now they come in one-colour packets dominated by vivid health warnings. Tobacco companies deny changing ingredients, while pundits say the issue highlights the power of branding

If that wasn’t enough there are a number of countries around the world watching this to see if it has an impact with a view to creating similar legislation. If it works in Australia why wouldn’t it work elsewhere?

I quit!

Then yesterday we heard about a judgement delivered in the United States that orders tobacco companies to publish statements that say they lied about the dangers of smoking and that disclose smoking’s health effects.

Among the statements mandated are:

  • “Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day.”
  • “Defendant tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.”
  • “When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain, that’s why quitting is so hard.”
  • “All cigarettes cause cancer, lung disease, heart attacks and premature death – lights, low tar, ultra lights and naturals. There is no safe cigarette.”
  • “Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in adults who do not smoke.”
  • “Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, severe asthma and reduced lung function.”
  • “There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

This is very powerful stuff and whilst there may be a challenge to the judgement it is a significant impost if it goes ahead.

Recent studies seem to show that less people are smoking and yet it is still the largest preventable cause of death and disease in Australia. There is a tobacco-related death about every 28 minutes in Australia, adding up to more than 50 deaths each day. Most smokers know this and still can’t kick the habit which is why the campaigns are aggressive and often confronting, not just here but all around the world.

This is an amazing campaign from Thailand that is compelling viewing and shows a different strategy to encourage people to think about quitting. If you are a smoker and want help why not go to Quit Now or call Quitline on 13 78 48.
It may be hard but it is possible and even if it takes multiple attempts the alternatives are so much worse.


Categories: What a world

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1 reply

  1. I just wanted to point out a small piece of Australian statistical information that may be relevant here.

    The number one cause of death in 2010 was Ischaemic heart diseases. This could be caused by a number of things, including bad diet, lack of exercise, genetic anomalies and possibly smoking, caffeine and alcohol related issues. General unhealthiness sums this up nicely.

    The number two cause of death in 2010 was Cerebrovascular diseases. This could be caused by a number of things, including bad diet, lack of exercise, genetic anomalies and possibly smoking, caffeine and alcohol related issues. General unhealthiness sums this up nicely.

    The number three cause of death in 2010 was Dementia and Alzheimer disease. This, as far as I’m aware is caused either by alcohol related diseases or genetic anomalies.

    The number four cause of death in 2010 was Trachea, bronchus and lung cancer. Now, I’m happy to give smoking the full blame here, even discounting the level of pollution that is ubiquitous in our society.

    The top 20 causes of deaths in 2010 include things such as Diabetes (ranked 7th), Influenza and pneumonia (14th), Intentional self-harm (15), Skin cancers (16), Accidental falls (18) and Cirrhosis and other diseases of liver (20).

    Now I’m not saying that around 8,000 deaths in 2010 that could be specifically attributed to smoking (lung cancer) is something to be ignored. But the total of the number of deaths that I have listed in the above paragraph is almost double that number.

    The number of deaths from Dementia (a well known side effect of alcohol abuse) in 2010 have TRIPLED from the 2001 number.

    Again, I’m not saying that smoking is healthy, but the amount of effort that is put into stopping people smoking is visibly huge, while alcohol related illnesses are sorted out with a “Drink responsibly” warning.

    The number of people who have died from Road Traffic Accidents in 2010 was 1,309 – the number of Intentional Self-harm deaths in the same period: 2,359. The amount of money, effort and advertising that goes into reducing the road toll is massive, but I wonder what percentage of that goes into suicide prevention? There were 333 male deaths from suicide to every 100 female deaths from suicide in 2010. I know there are charities and organisations trying to address this, but how close do you think the funding would be for those organisations versus the amount of funding to the police department for reducing road deaths?

    I understand where the message of your post is going and the intention behind it. I also know that personally you champion causes other than quitting smoking with much more fervor and dedication. I just worry that the government is focusing on one particular molehill so that we aren’t looking at the mountains.

    I also wonder how much of the 90-odd% of the price of a packet of cigarettes actually goes back to our health system? Is it that it’s easier to blame smokers than try to direct funding to an over-worked and under-funded hospital system?

    Just saying…

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