The fight for a smoke-free society

31 May 2012

Written by: Cass Savellis

Today is World No Tobacco Day, a day worthwhile and definitely needed. It provides hope that an increasing number of people are now ready to face the realisation that smoking and being exposed to passive smoking only has negative consequences.

The organisers of World No Tobacco Day, WHO (World Health Organization) state that, ‘Tobacco use continues to be the leading global cause of preventable death,’ killing nearly ‘6 million people every year through cancer, heart disease, respiratory diseases, childhood diseases and others.’

The first steps have been taken in Australia, with smoking banned in bars and hotels around 2007. Although Tasmania had already delegated a number of smoke-free spaces in 2006. Now, several towns, if not states are leaning towards smoking bans in public spaces.

Recent updates have been smoking bans in the majority of public areas, such as playgrounds, sporting grounds, public transport stops and entrances to buildings. In February, the NSW government announced its plan to initiate these restrictions. Places including the Macedon Ranges Shire, have also proposed bans, beginning in July.

This World No Tobacco Day theme is ‘industry interference’ which ‘will focus on the need to expose and counter the tobacco industry’s brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’. In other words, the campaign looks at the way the tobacco industry interferes in sectors such as the government, public and scientific research, to make tobacco use seem positive.

Now that these schemes have been identified, the 2012 World No Tobacco Day aims to cut down the tobacco industry to stop them from undermining the facts.

For instance, while the government approves of tobacco sales due to the profits it encounters, smoking related illness costs the government ‘hundreds of billions of dollars of economic losses worldwide every year’, according to WHO.

This is probably the most significant barrier to break through, getting the government to stop supporting tobacco distribution will hopefully bring imminent change. It is puzzling that the government is able to allow the sale of cigarettes that are linked to numerous illnesses and are the direct cause of several more.

And while the public may think it’s ‘each to their own’, what many may not be aware of is that around 600, 000 people die each year from second-hand smoke exposure. Before smoking was banned in hotels and clubs, patrons would have a fond reminder of their night out by smelling like someone else’s second-hand smoke. Not what you imagine when turning 18 and are excited to be allowed into these premises! How people think this makes them more appealing is mindboggling.

Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, states that the tobacco free days are proven to impact government’s decisions, noting that in 2004 Ireland was the first country to go smoke free in absolutely all public areas. Bettcher hopes this has set the bar high for other countries who have imposed smoking bans, but still have places with designated smoking areas.

If more and more individuals get behind the smoking ban, it will decrease association with the tobacco industry, who are according to Bettcher, ‘underhanded, parasitic, profit-seeking and need to be regulated.’

If you’re passionate about the ban on tobacco, you can find out more about the campaign.

Cass Savellis is a final year Bachelor of Journalism student and part of the upstart editorial team. She writes a blog and can be found on Twitter @csavellis.