World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31, and this time, the focus of WHO is to implement the concept of plain packaging all over the world.
The World Health Association called for April 7 to be the World Anti-Smoking Day in 2987. It was renamed World No Tobacco Day, and is being celebrated around the world every year ever since, with a different theme each year.
The concept of plain packaging was first applied in Australia in 2012. It is the only country to have mandatory guidelines in this favour. This law is in addition to, and a part of the different laws governing to curb smoking in Australia, the others being, covering 75 percent of the front cover of the package with warnings, restricted internet advertising, record investments in anti-smoking social media campaigns, increase in excise duty and stronger penalties for tobacco smuggling offences.
Plain tobacco packaging was taken up by the law in France, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom on May 20 this year.
According to WHO, “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.”
The major motive of the WHO to encourage such a move is to reduce smoking, citing the reason that this decreases the glamour and attractiveness of smoking. Reports claim that Australia had a reduction of a very ‘significant’ proportion, that is, an additional 0.55 percent, equal to 108,000 people.
There have been many controversies regarding plain tobacco packaging, the most prominent one being that it may encourage counterfeiting of products, thus leading to decrease in quality levels, and, in turn, an increase in health risks associated with smoking.
Of course, there is huge opposition from tobacco companies; for this may lead not only to a decrease in tobacco use but also less brand consciousness, which means big companies losing out on their customers.
However, plain packaging as an individual measure is not the answer; it is tax and excise duty that would work better and urge people to stop smoking. Depriving a company of their basic right to brand a product as theirs is equal to forcing them to work against the company policy.
Whether this move will be accepted and effective worldwide is yet to be seen, but the governments must take some initiatives to curb smuggling and counterfeiting, else it is only going to backfire.
What do you think of the initiative? Tell us in the comments below!
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