Friday, 30 November 2012

Plain Packaging News

Morning all!!!

Tomorrow will see Australia become the first country in the world to introduce plain packaging of cigarettes.

Here are some of the latest news about this:

As most will know, we Cancer Campaigns Ambassadors have been working very hard alongside Cancer Research UK all year to try and persuade the government to introduce plain packaging in the UK.

The campaign is aimed at young people and trying to discourage them from taking up smoking in the first place. IT IS NOT AIMED AT PEOPLE WHO ALREADY SMOKE.

Please look out for plain packaging news over the next few days and it will be really interesting to see how it pans out in Austalia whilst we wait for the government's decision.

Just a few facts about plain packaging for anyone that everyone should know:

Thousands of people every year are diagnosed with cancer because they have a smoking habit. Years of research has proven very clear links between cancer and smoking. One in every four cancer deaths in the UK is directly caused by smoking. a fifth of all cancer cases in the UK are also directly caused by smoking. Cancer Research research shows that smoking is the most important PREVENTABLE cause of cancer in the world.

More then four in five cases of Lung Cancer are caused by smoking. Lung Cancer has one of the lowest survival rates. it is the most common cause of cancer in the UK. Most of these cases are preventable if you give up smoking and allow your lungs to recover.

As well as Lung Cancer, smoking also increases your risk of over a dozen other cancers:
* Mouth
* Larynx (Voicebox)
* Pharynx (Upper Throat)
* Nose and Sinuses
* Oesophagus (Food Pipe)
* Liver
* Pancreas
* Stomach
* Kidney
* Bladder
* Cervix
* Bowel
* One type of Ovarian
* Some types of Leukaemia
* There is also evidence to suggest smoking can increase the risk of you developing Breast Cancer

There are at least 80 cancer causing substances in tobacco smoke. As you inhale the smoke these chemicals are released into your lungs and spread about your body. According to scientists; these chemicals can actually damage your DNA and mutate important genes, making your cells grow and multiply until they are out of control.

I  would like to make a very important point: I, and everyone else at CRUK, fight for EVERYONE suffering from cancer and EVERYONE who will suffer from cancer at some point in the future. No one deserves cancer; it is a horrific disease that changes the lives of sufferers and their loved ones. It is cruel and aggressive. It doesn't discriminate. This campaign is not aimed at making smokers feel like pariahs. It is not aimed at taking away your rights as a smoker. It is not aimed at making smokers lives more difficult. It’s not aimed at making smokers feel embarrassed, ashamed, guilty or pressurised to quit. This campaign is aimed at children and trying to get them to not take up smoking in the first place.

Cancer Research UK receives no government funding but has become the world’s leading charity dedicated to fighting cancer and saving lives through research. The charity is committed to reducing the harm caused by tobacco and has played a significant role in securing a ban on tobacco advertising, creating smoke free workplaces, removing cigarette vending machines and most recently changing the laws surrounding tobacco displays in retailers. We are now working hard to secure plain packaging and if the campaign is successful then the UK will become the first nation in Europe to introduce plain packaging.

Research has shown that eight out of ten smokers have started smoking by the age of nineteen. Most of these smokers will develop an addiction that will stay with them long into adulthood. Half of these long term smokers will die of a smoking related illness such as cancer. That is a huge amount of people suffering from an illness that could be prevented by not smoking in the first place.

The campaigns team at CRUK have been very thorough in their research and have providing their ambassadors with all the information needed. I have a list of arguments and rebuttals against plain packaging and I will write them here for you all to see:
“Plain Packaging will make packs easier to forge and will increase smuggling”
Tobacco products are already really easy to forge so covert markings are used to detect smuggled packs. These markings will remain on the plain packs.

“Plain Packaging will affect local shops”
Plain packaging is aimed at stopping young people from starting smoking so sales will decline slowly over time giving shops a chance to adjust. Plain packets will not have any detrimental effect on shopkeepers’ ability to find the requested pack’ peer-reviewed research has suggested that plain packs will actually speed up that process

“Cigarette prices will fall”
If there is any reduction in the price of cigarettes then taxes on cigarettes can be raised to compensate

“We can’t afford to lose tax from smokers”
Taxing of cigarettes contributes £10 billion to the treasury every year. HOWEVER the cost of smoking has been estimated to be £13.74 billion meaning the strain of smoking related illnesses cost more than the tax is brings in.
No figure can be put on the cost of human suffering caused by cancer

“Plain packaging is illegal as it infringes on trade mark rights”
Nobody is taking trademarks away by including plain packaging. International treaties have opt outs where public health in concerned so this is not an illegal move at all.

The important thing to remember about this campaign is that a lot of the campaigning has been done by volunteers like me. We are members of the public who genuinely believe in the work of Cancer Research UK. We are people who do this work in our spare time for no financial gains whatsoever. You have to really believe in something to be willing to dedicate hours and hours of your spare time to a cause, especially when you have a busy career, a family to take care of and an everyday life to lead. That dedication is a powerful tool. It means the work we do is genuinely done because we believe in what we are doing. We are people who have been affected by cancer and want to help prevent our experiences happening to others.

The other thing to remember is that the tobacco companies have spent a hell of a lot of money on opposing this campaign. Why would they do that if they were not worried that plain packaging would be a threat to their profits? Two million pounds was spent by JTI alone. Tobacco companies are not allowed to advertise their products anymore. Gone are the days where a Benson and Hedges advert would loom down on you from one of those massive billboards whilst you’re stuck in traffic. They have to rely on other means of enticing smokers. Packets are one of them. Cigarette packets have become increasingly glitzy in the past few years. Our campaign “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” has also proven tricky for tobacco companies because now cigarettes are hidden away in larger retailers.

Smoking is a lifestyle choice. One that I try to understand and respect. If you know of the dangers and choose to carry on smoking then that is entirely your prerogative and I wish you well. I sincerely hope you are in the very small minority that’s doe not get ill. But the fact remains that smoking is a dangerous habit and children should be encouraged to not take up smoking at all in the first place. The tobacco industry refers to children and young people as “pre smokers”, a fact I find rather disgusting. Most smokers I know would hate for their children to smoke.

If you believe plain packaging won’t put young people off smoking then think of your time at school. Imagine your mum put an ASDA own brand can of cola into your lunchbox instead of a Coca-Cola can, would you not have been slightly embarrassed by it? It’s the same logic with cigarettes – some are cooler then others. We all know how much image means when you are young. Smoking a certain brand of cigarettes will mean something. Taking the branding away will take that image away. No one will look cooler then anyone else if everyone has the same packet.

A comment I hear frequently is “if you’re doing this to tobacco, why not to alcohol?”. I have my own opinion on this. Certain types of Alcohol, in moderation, can have some health benefits whereas there are NO benefits to smoking. Absolutely none. It makes your hair, skin and clothes smell. It ages your skin. It discolours your teeth and nails. It damages your insides. It rots your teeth. It leads to a whole host of life threatening illnesses. Not to mention the damage it will do to your bank account.

I hope this blog post has provided you with all the information you need about plain packaging and why so many people are for such a historic move. Obviously, I understand that not everyone feels the same about the campaign but I hope this blog post explains my feelings on the subject.

Good luck to Australia, I sincerely hope to read that introducing the plain packs does have an impact on the amount of young people taking up smoking. I have one preteen sister, two teenage sisters and one teenage brother as well as a preteen sister in law. I actively try to discourage them from smoking by educating them on the subject and setting an example for them. I do practice what I preach after all!!

For more information about plain packaging please do contact Cancer Research UK


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