In the European Union, but also in Montenegro, discussions are going on about new anti-smoking measures, as it has definitely been established that smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease. Proposals have been presented to sell cigarettes in packets covered with horrible pictures showing the consequences that smoking may cause, thus trying to prevent young people from smoking.
While other countries are still hesitating, Australia has decided to make the first step! A new law that forces tobacco firms to sell cigarettes in plain packets came into effect on December 1st, 2012. All cigarettes will now have to be sold in identical packets largely covered with photographs showing e.g. a gangrenous foot, mouth cancer or a skeletal man dying of cancer.
The black cigarette display cases in the “Tobacco Stations” (in big supermarkets also called “Customer Service”) have to be opened each time when a customer arrives, as the packets cannot be openly displayed. Anti-smoking campaigners have welcomed the new law, but the media state that many people have become quite upset and offended by the images.
Moreover, smoking regulations in Australia are quite strict anyway: cigarettes may not be sold to persons younger than 18, smoking is not allowed in public buildings, restaurants and pubs, shops, etc.etc. and the “No smoking” sign can be seen everywhere in town. As a result, the percentage of smokers in Australia has dropped from about 50 percent in the 1950s to 15 percent now and the government is aiming to push it down to 10 percent by 2018.
However, in the meantime another problem has appeared: the number of Australian people who are overweight and obese continues to rise (men 70%, women 56% and children 25%). And how does the Australian government intend to combat this phenomenon? Will the numerous “fast food” restaurants be closed? Will the people be warned about the risks for their health with horrible graphic images on chocolate cakes, French fries or MacDonalds cheeseburgers? I don’t believe so.
Finally, for me the question remains: is it allowed to take such drastic anti-smoking measures without introducing similar measures for other dangerous types of behavior: drinking too much alcohol, using drugs, eating too much junk food?