Source: Gerry's News Digest
Switzerland is behind some countries in the west in relation to smoking.
1 The Swiss think that stopping people smoking is a restriction on ______________________ .
2 In the UK, a packet of 20 cigarettes cost almost ______________________ .
3 The new anti-smoking campaign in May this year will not allow brands to show ___________________ on cigarette packets.
4 In Australia, all the cigarettes come in ___________________ packets, which is the ugliest colour.
5 Australians can only smoke in designated ___________________ .
6 The rate of Australians who smoke have decreased up to ___________________ , compared to a global average of about 20%.
7 Three-quarters of UK smokers sometimes ___________________ .
Switzerland is in many ways a very health-conscious country, but in one respect it’s always been a bit behind other countries in the west, and that’s in relation to smoking. I remember having an interesting talk once with somebody from the Federal Office of Public Health about this. He gave me the impression that while the Swiss think that stopping people smoking may be good for public health they also think that it’s a restriction on personal freedom. They don’t like authorities telling them what to do. They’re against the “nanny state”, a term for a government that interferes too much in the private lives of its citizens.
In Britain, however, when it comes to smoking, public health concerns have generally won the argument against personal freedom supporters. Tobacco is heavily taxed. 20 cigarettes will cost you nearly £10 in the UK now. Advertising is banned. There are big health warnings on cigarette packets. Shops are not allowed to display tobacco products. And so on. And in May this year, we’re going to see the next step in the campaign to stop people smoking. Cigarettes will be sold in plain packaging. Cigarette packets will only show health warnings and the name of the brand in a neutral typeface. No colours, no logos, nothing to distinguish one brand from another apart from the name.
The UK will not be the first country to introduce this. I was reading an article about Australia where life has been made even more difficult for smokers. They’ve had plain packaging now for five years. All cigarettes come in dark brown packets – it’s supposed to be the ugliest colour - with no logos, only graphic health warnings. There are massive restrictions on where you’re allowed to smoke. No smoking indoors, and only in specially designated areas outdoors. There are also advertising campaigns and other measures to help people give up. And perhaps most effective of all, the Australian government is systematically raising the price of cigarettes through taxation. By 2020 a packet of cigarettes in Australia will cost AUD$40.00. So what effect have these measures had on smoking in Australia? Smoking rates for adults have almost halved since 1980 and are now at about 13%, compared to a global average of about 20%. There’s also been a decrease of almost 23% in the rate of hospital admissions caused by smoking.
I don’t think that anybody can argue against the fact that smoking is extremely harmful to health, and for that reason it costs society a lot in terms of health care, premature death and so on. But there are perhaps a few problems with the sort of drastic anti-smoking measures we’re seeing. Some reports say that three-quarters of UK smokers sometimes buy illegal cigarettes. And secondly, it’s generally speaking the poor who make up the biggest number of smokers. The campaign is increasingly targeting people who are already marginalised.
1 personal freedom
2 ten pounds
3 colours or/and logos
4 dark brown
5 areas outdoors
6 thirteen per cent (13%)
7 buy illegal cigarettes