CTFK, The Union, Vital Strategies urge countries to adopt plain packing of tobacco products

This year, WHO has set plain packaging as the theme of the Day, as the spread of this strategy is expected to boost the fight against tobacco.

The US-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), The Union, and Vital Strategies issued separate statements, highlighting the need of plain packing for the sake of public health.

CTFK President Matthew Myers urged countries considering plain packaging to move "quickly".

"Without bold action now, tobacco use will kill one billion people worldwide this century," he said.

Plain packaging restricts packets to a uniform plain colour, shape and size, devoid of colourful branding or logos or other promotional elements that attract youths, undermine health warnings, or mislead consumers about the harms of tobacco use.

Australia was the first country to take this step after winning a legal battle against industries in 2012.

Public understanding of the dangers of tobacco use rose and smoking rates fell at the fastest pace in more than two decades following the measure.

On May 20 this year, the UK and France became the second and third countries to adopt the strategy.

Ireland, too, has enacted a plain packaging law and is working on the regulations.

Plain packaging legislation is in the process of adoption in Norway and Hungary, and has been included in tobacco control bills introduced in Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Panama and Slovenia.

Other countries formally considering its adoption include Belgium, Canada, Finland, Mauritius, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

"As more countries adopt plain packaging, what once was seen as a revolutionary policy is well on its way to becoming a standard practice in national tobacco control policies worldwide," the CTFK President said.

"Tobacco companies have fiercely opposed it because they know it works," he said.

The Union, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, joins international calls for countries to introduce plain tobacco packaging to encourage users to quit and discourage non-users from trying addictive nicotine products.

It also called for a 'plain packaging' approach to e-cigarettes-this burgeoning industry is increasingly owned by tobacco companies renowned for targeting children with powerful marketing campaigns.

"We welcome the global momentum behind plain packaging and encourage countries to introduce this powerful measure for reducing tobacco use as soon as they reasonably can," said Dr Ehsan Latif, Director of the Department of Tobacco Control at The Union.

"But we must ensure we properly close this final door on tobacco marketing experts. At present, e-cigarettes offer almost unrestricted opportunities to continue relentless pursuit of their target market-children and young people."

Both the CTFK and The Union support governments and civil society in countries around the world including Bangladesh to introduce and implement life-saving tobacco control policies with Bloomberg funds.

The Vital Strategies, formerly World Lung Foundation, called on more countries to adopt plain packaging to protect youth and make tobacco control central to achieving Strategic Development Goals (SDGs).

The public health experts group, however, also warned that more had to be done to implement high tobacco taxes, as recommended under the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

President and Chief Executive Officer Jose Luis Castro said of all the progress made in the past year, "perhaps the most significant advance is the truly global consensus around the link between tobacco, ill health and negative health and economic impacts."

"This evidence-backed, simple principal is clear in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which urges countries to fully implement the FCTC, and the Adidas Ababa Action Agenda, which recommends the use of tobacco taxes as a sustainable means of financing development," he said.

"Using higher tobacco taxes to fund change, while also decreasing smoking prevalence, is a clear "win-win" and we urge more countries to increase tobacco taxes to reduce affordability."

Source: BD News 24