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Should Packaging Deter Poor Lifestyle Choices?

Box of cigarettes isolated on a white On the 20 May 2016, there are to be new regulations in Europe regarding the packaging of cigarettes. This means that the appearance of all cigarettes and hand rolling packs will be standardised: including the material, size, shape and opening; the colour of packaging and cigarettes; as well as the font, colour and size. In addition, the pictures of health warnings are required to cover the top 65% of the front and back of cigarette packages. There is a one year transitional period to allow for existing/old stock to be sold. This means that cigarette brands will no longer be distinctive in their appearance.

Cigarette packaging around the world

Picture health warnings are fairly commonplace around the world today. You can find out more about their effectiveness from this article on the World Health Organization’s web site.

One person's opinion

I came across a letter to the editor of one of the UK newspapers where a lady reader wrote the following: "Now that the EU has ruled that all cigarette packaging must be standardised from 20 May, may I please suggest the following:
  • All fizzy drinks should be in plain bottles/cans with their brand in an identical font and pictures of toddlers with rotting teeth.
  • All pies, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, crisps and more should be in plain identical packaging with images of obese people clutching their chests in alarm (or perhaps something even more graphic).
  • And what should be done about alcohol?
The cost to the NHS (the UK's national health service) incurred by smokers is surely on a par with the costs incurred by overindulging in the above types of products." The letter writer certainly has a point but where do you draw the line?

Those other lifestyle choices

The most hardened smoker knows deep down that smoking is detrimental to his or her health in spite of their being in denial. In the last few years, even the mainstream media has spread the word on the dangers of sugar. That sweet and addictive poison has replaced "fats" as the product to be avoided at all costs. At the same time, fats have become the good guys.

Is alcohol helpful or harmful?

There are definitely pros and cons on the subject of alcohol. We have written before on how to ensure a healthy way of enjoying alcohol. But it is important to understand that alcohol consumption, and any benefits, vary based on an individual's body make up and type. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, "moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men." There are said to be 7 advantages to the moderate drinking of alcohol:
1. It can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. 2. It can lengthen your life. 3. It can improve your libido. 4. It helps prevent the common cold. 5. It can lower the risk of developing dementia. 6. It can reduce the risk of gallstones. 7. It can lower the chance of diabetes.
On the other side of the coin, drinking large amounts of alcohol for many years will take its toll on many of the body's organs and may cause organ damage including the brain and nervous system, heart, liver and pancreas. Heavy drinking can also increase blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, both of which are major risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. There are many long-term health risks associated with alcohol misuse including weakening the immune system (making you more vulnerable to serious infections) as well as weakening the bones (placing you at greater risk of fracturing or breaking bones).
Will the day come when all the above will be packaged in such a way as to deter us from actually buying and consuming/using the product?