Australia role model

The Australian anti-tobacco cause has had another win – with Waverley council declaring one of Bondi’s most popular street a smoke-free zone.

It is over for smokers and everyday from 7am to 9pm, Hall St is at the heart of this smoking ban initiative. Small signs have been erected in the whole street taking smokers apart: “Breathe easy you’re in a smoke free zone”.

This move is following the successful smoke-free areas put in place in Spring Street and Oxford Street malls. The Waverley council is “help{ing} to fully protect non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke”.

Although the campaign is supported by local businesses, local smokers told the Wentworth Courier that they thought it was “unfair” and “taking too far, it’s a public walkway”.  A “strict decision” according to Chris, a French international student living in the area. Hall Street has allowed smoking for more than 150 years; a cultural change that Waverley council is fully aware of.

“It will take time to change the behaviour of smokers, but we are hopeful a collaborative approach will see significant changes in the future,” said a Waverley council spokesperson Alicia.

According to Cancer Council Australia, smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Australia yet it claims the lives of 15,500 Australians every year.

Smoking rates in constant decrease.

Pioneer, Australia is the first country to launch plain packaging on December 2012.

In 2011-12, 16.1 % of Australians were daily smokers against 14.5% in 2014-15. The Australian Health Department estimated that 0.55 percentage point of the total decline in smoking prevalence is related to the packaging changes.

Following the role model, France was the second country to establish plain packaging. But it did not result in the expected outcome. According to Logista France, the national main tobacco supplier, 10.82 billion of cigarettes have been delivered across the country between 1st January and 31st march 2017. At the same period last year: 10,67 billion. French tobacco owner Vincenza said that people “find it ridiculous, they keep smoking anyway.”

Plain packaging is one of the factors contributing to the decrease of smoking, especially concerning young people. “Smoking is no longer a social thing, youth think it is “not cool”. Smokers are now isolated it is no longer socially acceptable” said Dr Shihui Lai, general practitioner.

Education campaigns, bans on advertisement and smoke-free zones are measures enabling the decrease in smoking rates in Australia.

Europe is slightly different. French people are allowed to smoke in the terrace of restaurants and they enjoy it. “If you want France to stop smoking you have to make it difficult for smokers: limiting the place where smoking is accepted and reducing the tobacco shops. Smoking is cultural and French citizens are rebels, they do not like following the government rules” said Dr. Oliver.

image1Picture: Two French people having a smoke. Credits: Lauer Emilie

Just a few days before the French presidential elections, candidates want to rise the price of cigarettes. A major point of their health campaign.

In Australia, the cost of cigarettes will increase each year by 12.5% reaching $45 in 2020. According to Dr Oliver, prices will not decrease the rate of actual smokers but only discourage the new ones. “Addicted people do not look at the price, their only issue is when will be the next cigarette. They would rather smoke than eat. The problem will not change”.


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