SHOULD ANTI SMOKING CAMPAIGNS TAKE A DIFFERENT APPROACH? – Currently the trend in anti smoking campaigns focus heavily on the detrimental health hazards, most notably cancer; ranging from lung cancer, throat cancer and indeed many other forms.
It’s not just cancer that campaigns focus on but also that of other health issues such a premature aging, bad teeth and of course smelly breath.
There has been much debate over the design of cigarette packaging; some say the manufactures of tobacco products ‘sex up’ the packaging in order to make smoking more appealing.
Over the last few years Governments, in many developed and developing nations, have changed tactics and forced manufacturers to design its packing with graphic images to people dying of cancer; but has this had a significant impact on reducing the number of people smoking?
Some statistics showed a decline in the number of smokers due to such packaging but this now appears to be wearing off; in other words, people are becoming blind to the messages on cigarette packages with many simply not able to register the messages printed on them.
Recently the Government in the United Kingdom considered switching from the graphic images of patients dying from cancer to a simple non-descript all-white packet with just the brand being displayed in plain print.
Such a campaign has appeared to have fallen by the wayside as many experts do not believe such packaging would have any significant impact in the reduction of smokers.
So what is the answer? Is there a solution that would significantly reduce the number of smokers and in turn reduce the massive cost of healthcare for those suffering from smoking related diseases?
There is now a debate as to whether Governments should switch tactics from health to money; that is focus on the costs of smoking rather than warning smokers about the health issues.
It could be perceived that we worry more about money than we do about our health and therefore this approach could produce significant results in reducing the number of people smoking.
The UK currently applies tax duty to cigarettes and other tobacco products that does make smoking fairly expensive. With the average costs of a packet of 20 cigarettes being £8.00 (US$12.00) you might think that more people would quit.
We all know that smoking is not good for us so would it be feasible to squeeze smokers further; after all if they want to kill themselves which takes up valuable medical resources shouldn’t they be forced to pay for it through higher levels of taxation?
I wonder how many people, smokers that is, would object to the Government doubling or even tripling current levels of tobacco duty in order to bring the costs of an average packet of cigarettes up to around £30.00.
I am a smoker and certainly quitting is not easy, but if we were squeezed harder financially then maybe this would be the catalyst that would significantly reduce the number of smokers and the overall cost.
This of course, for the Government at least, is a double edged sword for it raises vast sums of money in taxation through the sale of tobacco products each year. Certainly the tobacco manufacturers wouldn’t be happy with such a plan as this could put them out of business.
The Government talks about health issues of the nation and how the cost of medical care for smoking related diseases is crippling the health service and yet they continue to fail to implement measures, such as higher tobacco duty, in order to force smokers to quit.
For the Government the issue of smoking is like any other economical issue; it’s only concern is to find a balance where the income exceeds the cost in order to make a profit and currently this is the case; that is duty received from tobacco sales far exceed the costs of smoking related healthcare.
This might appear to be a cynical approach but do you really think that if the UK Government, or any Government for that matter, was serious about wiping out smoking it couldn’t be achieved?
As a smoker I would certainly support a much higher rate of taxation on tobacco products in order to force me and others into kicking the nasty little habit.