HomeNews EventsNewsPlain packaging of tobacco products not a ‘silver bullet’

Plain packaging of tobacco products not a ‘silver bullet’

16 Nov 2018

The recent proposal to introduce standardised tobacco packaging has elicited strong responses from diverse sectors.

Many have lauded the move, including Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, who tweeted a congratulatory message to Singapore. However, some have derided the move as superficial and naive, and one which is unlikely to change the behaviour of smokers.

But the battle against smoking is not simply in encouraging and supporting existing smokers to kick the habit. It is also in ensuring impressionable adolescents and young adults do not start.

“I must emphasise that plain packaging is certainly no ‘silver bullet’ to magically bring down smoking prevalence in Singapore. And there may never be one. It is intended to complement and enhance existing tobacco control measures,” said Professor Teo Yik Ying, Dean.

He added that smoking is highly addictive and the addiction to nicotine cannot be trivialised. An outright ban on tobacco might ironically be an ‘irresponsible’ policy decision, one that does not respect the difficulties smokers face in breaking the cycle of nicotine dependency. Instead, what would be useful for existing smokers are smoking cessation programmes that include support from their families, workplaces and the community.

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