Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Manufacturer information will be stitched in every pack of cigarettes But the retail business probably needs a transfer period after the law comes into force?

Dr Bettcher: 6-12 months is enough for the adaptation of small and middle businesses. But no more than a year. Otherwise tobacco companies get a chance to influence public opinion with the help of counter arguments trying to soften something and introduce amendments. One should introduce bans as quickly as possible, then they are effective.

Turkey which is a very successful example of fighting with tobacco industry, was on the edge of canceling the smoking ban in bars and restaurants during the transfer period. It lasted one year. In this time small merchandisers and tobacco companies united and almost pushed the amendment canceling the norm. Only thanks to the principled position of the Prime Minister it was managed to uphold this norm. Russia is preparing a bill introducing scary pictures on packs of cigarettes: infected wounds, infants in tobacco smoke. Turkey has done it. But smokers just put a pack in a leather box and don’t see the picture. No effect…

Dr Bettcher: Yes, one may hide a pack in a box but still a customer will see the picture. So there is effect. Smokers therefore hide a pack a box, because their brain is aware of the seriousness of this warning of the danger of smoking. What tobacco related prejudices are the most stable?

Dr Bettcher: Marlboro advertising campaign was built on the image of a smoker, a brutal strong guy. A very common prejudice typical for many countries. The irony is – smoking does cause impotence. And the actor who performed in this ad, died from cancer.

Also, smokers believe that they may quit any day. This is another very common delusion. Tobacco companies are the ones supporting this myth. In reality although many wish to quit, not many can do it. But this is a pure propaganda. Nicotine is that kind of a drug which causes strong addiction. Starting from 1970s and in the following years tobacco companies even added in cigarettes addictive things such as ammonium which strengthened the addiction. It is proven that nicotine causes the addiction which is as strong as the one caused by heroine or cocaine.

It is not by accident that in Canada all supplements in cigarettes – aroma or flavor, increasing the addiction, are forbidden. WHO thinks that tobacco companies are into drug dealing, open drug dealing. What is your forecast? What country will be the first to introduce total ban on smoking? Even for diplomats and other highly appreciated guests.

Dr Bettcher: Most likely it will be New Zealand which has adopted a state program according to which by 2025 a number of smokers shouldn’t exceed 5% of the population. Singapore and Malaysia are close to impressive results. In these countries today smoking stops being a norm in public minds. A smoker there is beyond moral norms. And in Russia smoking is a casual thing.

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