World No Tobacco Day is celebrated around the world every year on May 31st. It is intended to encourage of quitting smoking at least for 24 hours all forms of tobacco around the world. The day is further intended to draw attention to the widespread prevalence of tobacco use and to negative health effects, which currently lead to nearly 6 million deaths each year worldwide, including 600,000 of which are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

However, we should not forget about how tobacco industry harms the environment:

  • In some countries tobacco growing has lead to extensive land clearance and deforestation to make room for new crops, and to provide timber to fuel the heaters used to dry the tobacco leaf following harvest;
  • Commercial tobacco growing involves the use of a range of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides to maximise crop production;
  • All phases of tobacco production have the potential to contribute to climate change, from farming to curing the leaf (which requires the use of heat generated by wood, oil, coal or gas), and the manufacturing process;
  • Cigarette butts are the most commonly discarded piece of waste worldwide. Globally, about 4.3 trillion cigarette butts litter the earth every year.

Therefore, for World No Tobacco Day 2016 WHO and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are calling countries to get ready for plain packaging of tobacco products. Plain tobacco packaging is standardised or homogeneous packaging, refers to packaging that requires the removal of all branding, permitting manufacturers to print only the brand name in a mandated size, font and place on the pack, in addition to the health warnings and any other legally mandated information such as toxic constituents and tax-paid stamps. The appearance of all tobacco packs is standardised, including the colour of the pack.

WHO explains:

Plain packaging is an important demand reduction measure that reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, restricts use of tobacco packaging as a form of tobacco advertising and promotion, limits misleading packaging and labelling, and increases the effectiveness of health warnings.

Australia is the only country that currently mandates plain tobacco packaging, as a result of laws that were enacted in December 2012. Plain tobacco packaging is currently being introduced by law in France, the United Kingdom and Ireland. All cigarette packets manufactured for these countries must be plain packs from May 2016 and it will be illegal to sell non-plain packs in these countries from May 2017.

Learn more about the WHO World No Tobacco Day campagne 2016

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