May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, a time to remember that each year 13,000 Ontarians die from tobacco related disease. This year, to help prevent a new generation of smokers, the anti-tobacco industry coalition Freeze the Industry, is supporting the Federal Government’s call for all tobacco products and packages to be Plain and Standardized.
“Groups like ours are determined to stop deadly products from being sold in flashy packages.” said Freeze the Industry advocate Carly Hart.
Since public consultations opened on plain packaging legislation one year ago, the tobacco industry has been aggressively running advertising campaigns across the province to try and stop the health initiative. The tobacco industry’s campaign questions the effectiveness of plain and standardized packaging and claims that it will lead to increases in contraband cigarettes – neither of which are substantiated by evidence.
“The tobacco industry regularly uses contraband tobacco as an excuse against pursuing public health measures to curb tobacco use,” said Rebecca Shams, Health Promoter with the Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit. “The tobacco industry’s claims that plain packaging would increase contraband, is nothing more than a smoke screen and the public should not be fooled.”
Plain and standardized packaging would prohibit all promotional features on all tobacco packages. This includes things like colours, images, logos, slogans, distinctive fonts, and finishes. Only the brand name in plain font would be allowed, and the large graphic health warnings would remain on packages. Equally important, the size and shape of cigarette packs would be standardized, prohibiting specialty packages of slim and superslim cigarettes that target young women and render the health warnings almost illegible.
Numerous countries around the world have adopted plain and standardized tobacco packaging, and research to date shows it helps:
Discourage young people from starting smoking.
Increase the effectiveness of health warning labels.
Encourage quit attempts.
Reduce relapse among those who have quit.