Editorials

Plain packaging for tobacco products

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d5693 (Published 19 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5693
  1. David C Currow, chief cancer officer,
  2. Anita Dessaix, head of prevention
  1. 1Cancer Institute New South Wales, Eveleigh, NSW 2015, Australia
  1. david.currow{at}cancerinstitute.org.au

Minimising the emotional attachment to a cigarette brand could help smokers quit

On 7 April 2011, the minister for health and ageing, Nicola Roxon, introduced legislation into the Australian parliament to mandate plain packaging for all tobacco products in Australia. Australia is the first jurisdiction to introduce such legislation, and—in keeping with previous initiatives—the programme will be evaluated prospectively to assess the contribution it makes to the community’s smoking rates.

Smoking rates in Australia have declined over the past three decades as a result of progressively stronger tobacco control measures (box) and a concomitant change in behavioural norms. For example, today only 5% of non-smokers are exposed to smoking inside their homes.1 Adult daily smoking rates in Australia in 2010 were 15% compared with 24% in 1991. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to smoke as non-indigenous Australians. People living in remote or very remote areas are almost twice as likely to smoke as those in major cities, and those in the most disadvantaged fifth of the population are more than twice as likely to smoke as those in the least disadvantaged fifth.1 …

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