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Scary photos on tobacco 'should be copied' here
Photo: DPA

Scary photos on tobacco 'should be copied' here

Published: 15 Aug 2012 16:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Aug 2012 16:49 GMT+02:00

Cigarette packs should carry frightening pictures, German cancer experts say – and said the move taken by Australia on Wednesday to impose such rules should be followed here.

Australia this week introduced some of the world’s toughest laws on tobacco advertising – packaging has to bear carry images showing the effects of smoking such as cancerous lungs, a sick baby and rotten teeth, while the brand name is relegated to a small space.

Germany in contrast, not only sells comparatively cheap cigarettes, but is the last country in the European Union to continue to allow outdoor advertising of tobacco products.

The government remains one of the most lax in tobacco control in the western world – due to the economic power of tobacco companies, Dr Martina Pötschke-Langer from German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) told The Local.

“Tobacco companies have enormous power over German politicians,” she said. “The economy ministry in particular is incredibly strong in the German cabinet, and it has a close relationship with tobacco lobbyists,” she said. “This means that the health ministry comes second.”

But not only are German politics not strong enough to overrule the tobacco industry, the country has been on the back foot in researching the effects of smoking since the Second World War when, Pötschke-Langer explained, swathes of the country's scientists were killed or fled.

This means that there has been much less home-grown research and fewer statistics published concerning German smokers.

Pötschke-Langer – who is not only head of cancer prevention for the DKFZ but also for the World Health Organisation tobacco control collaboration centre – is just one of countless experts who have been urging for the German government to change its tobacco legislation, but with little notable success.

A hard-line approach similar to that in Australia would have huge benefits for Germany, she explained – particular in dissuading ex-smokers from returning to tobacco, non-smokers from starting and persuading smokers to give up.

Photographs on packs of cancerous lungs, rotten teeth and deformed sperm “speak more than a thousand words, reach everyone and are a cost-effective way of educating lots of people,” she added.

The introduction of non-branded packets was also a move she said could be highly effective in reducing the country's number of smokers. “When a packet becomes neutral it becomes a lot less attractive, especially to young people,” she said.

Social acceptance of smoking was, she said, slowly waning in Germany, aided by the nation's penchant for travelling around Europe.

“Germans love to travel and when they go to the UK, or other countries, and see non-smoking bars they have their eyes opened.”

Although some moves have been made in Germany to ban smoking from public places, the principle is unevenly followed across the country, with many get-out clauses for bars in particular.

A cancer prevention doctor by trade, Pötschke-Langer said she did not think Germany could manage alone. “There is hope for the Germans, but we need outside pressure from the EU,” she said.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:13 August 15, 2012 by JDee
I'm totally ok with this as long as they apply the rule equally. Therefore also all new cars must have pictures of horific car crashes with dismembered body parts shown on the body work, all adverts for skiing, mountain climbing, bungee jumping etc.. have pictures of a squashed dead person lying at the bottom of a ravine, a painful leg injury with bones poking through the skin etc... high fat foods have a picture of diabetes suffer's with amputated feet.. and so on. That would be cool by me.
18:44 August 15, 2012 by catjones
JDee...I think you missed the point about intention vs accident.
23:37 August 15, 2012 by insight101
No *hit, Germany? Wow, it took the German genius an extra 30 years to figure out as always. Cigarette smoke in your face every day is one of the absolute worst things about living in this country and why I am considering moving away. Most German thick headedness is only unpleasant, but the fact that cigarette smokers in Germany stand in droves blocking entrances to public buildings or stand from one end of the main bus stop to the other goes beyond unpleasant to damaging. And then they like to wax philosophical about human rights. Such hypocrisy!!

JDee's comment is the standard line you will get if you ask 100 Germans about this topic. That is German logic at its finest...
00:09 August 16, 2012 by jcbayley
Canada has already been doing this for years.
04:45 August 16, 2012 by sally#
Tabacco problem is similar worldwide. On the one hand, the country needs tabacoo to promote the economy and the addicts can hardly get rid of it. On the other hand,tabacco is harmful to human beings as well as the environment. Obviously, the latter overweigh the former,so immediate action should be taken to control smoking. Putting scary photos on tobacco is just one way.
08:50 August 16, 2012 by yahma
Ugh, that is the only one thing I dislike about this country. The unbelievable number of people who smoke, angururised have no qualms about blowing the smoke in your face.

There are people who even smoke in the train stations, even though there is a smoking ban inside the stations. Yet, many of these same people who happily puff away, blow smoke into the environment, harm their health and then toss their thousands of cigarette butts into the street, clogging drains and killing untold thousands of birds are the same people who buy BIO food cause its healthier, and are also the same ones who buy ECO electricity because its better for the environment...
10:00 August 16, 2012 by sparki
My biggest complaint about living here is smoking; hate it. Still seems to be the 'cool' thing to do here, especially for school kids. My two boys are now at that age where they may start smoking, and both know my views on it but all their friends are now starting, it's wrong. And not helped by all the advertising seen everywhere, tram stops, bus stops and i noted 2 smoking adverts at the cinema last week, leading up to the movie i was at with my KIDS, both under 16, the movie was for under 16's and they have smoking adverts. Crazy. Yet I can't cross the road when there is not a car in sight cause the pedestrian crossing is red. Only in Germany xxxx
11:25 August 16, 2012 by Masala
I'm over the moon to hear about the landmark court ruling in Australia. The NZ government have been watching with interest and they plan to make all packaging olive green and unbrabded as well.

I can't see it happening here for another 20 years, sadly.
11:30 August 16, 2012 by smart2012
Brazil is also doing this since years already. Implementation of this (very useful) warnings is depending on how strong is the cigarette lobby in the country. In Germany lobby seems pretty big... as cigarette law really never worked. Was in a posh club in Munich last week, people were smoking inside... And soon Oktober fest will start again, where people will smoke inside the stands easily.

All of this is a laugh
14:03 August 16, 2012 by tedesco
This is useless... Many countries have done this for a long time.

I'm from Brazil where this exists, again, useless. Brazilians love to bark at you that this is bad while eating it's Big Mac™ and drinking their Coca-Cola™.

People KNOW that smoking is bad.

In the end, it's all a matter of choice.
15:25 August 16, 2012 by NEUEVILLA
I note your reader's references to Australia, Canada, New Zealand etc.

I am surprised that none of the readers of your English speaking paper appear to have visited the UK where These pictures and warnings have been common practice for many years.
17:08 August 16, 2012 by insight101
@tedesco

No, it is not a matter of choice. That's why we hate it so much in Germany, because we can't avoid passive smoking every day of our lives there. Please change your mentality at least on this point Germans. I am begging you. Otherwise, don't make such a big stink over the death penalty, because you knowingly give it to people every day. In the U.S., you have to be at least 20 feet away from the entrance to a public building. I have been here on vacation for the last 5 weeks and am staying in a big city. I have only smelled cigarette smoke once, and that was outside a baseball stadium away from the entrance. It seems like a no brainer to me that the entrances are not the place to smoke and that Neumarkt should have some benches marked no smoking. Unfortunately, we can all expect many more years of German stubborness and false logic on this, because the bottom line is they want to smoke so they are going to justify it.
17:56 August 16, 2012 by deep_schismic
Although pictures have been on packaging in Australia for some time, it's only now that they will be in unmarked packaging with an even bigger horrid photo on it, and the brand will just be some text on the side...I don't think they have that anywhere else in the world...

As for this ever happening in Germany, this is like eons away...they need to ditch stone age mentality when it comes to smoking, and take some BASIC measures first like enforcing non-smoking zones (e.g. in train stations) and pubs, etc. Oh, and TOBACCO ADVERTISING...how that still prevails is just moronic. like something out of a time machine, seriously.
15:25 August 18, 2012 by phoaeni
Living in Germany is like living in Australia... 30 years ago! The Winfield Cup, Benson & Hedges cricket cup, tobacco advertisements everywhere, vending machines... Through a shear desire to live well in an already beautiful environment, Australians have demanded some of the strongest anti-smoking laws on earth, and it's fricking aweseome! On paper Germany has a much better pension system, but at what cost? The governement know half the population will smoke themselves to death at 60 anyway, so over 20 years of pension money will in reality never need to be paid. It's crazy to work like a slave for a pension you won't live to take.. But how the hell, for example, a 22 year old university graduate (assume educated) can sit down a metre from a family of young babies at a coffee shop, and just start smoking away???? Some people are insane, like really screwed up. Germany is supposed to be an information rich 'developed' nation, so how could young adults not know what I know about the damage cigarette smoking does to the lungs and heart?? Why? This is a bought nation, souls sold to the tobacco companies. Pathetic. The world wants to move on.

Tobacco in Australia :

1973 - Direct cigarette advertising on radio and television begins to be phased out over three years.

1976 - 43 per cent of Australian men smoke, as do 33 per cent of women.

1983 - Federal excise and customs duty on cigarettes linked to the Australian consumer price index.

1986 - 34 per cent of Australian men smoke, as do 28 per cent of women.

1990 - Cigarette advertising banned in locally produced newspapers and magazines.

1992 - 29 per cent of Australian men smoke, as do 24 per cent of women.

1995 - Most forms of tobacco sponsorship phased out, however exemptions granted to international events that couldn't exist without it.

1996 - Billboards, outdoor and illuminated signs advertising cigarettes banned.

1998 - 27 per cent of Australian men smoke, as do 25 per cent of women.

2000 - Laws passed removing sponsorship exemptions.

2004 - 24 per cent of Australian men smoke, as do 21 per cent of women.

2006 - Tobacco industry sponsorship completely phased out. New, graphic anti-smoking ads go to air.

2007 - Indoor smoking bans begin to be introduced. 21 per cent of Australian men smoke, as do 18 per cent of women.

2008 - States start banning smoking in cars carrying children.

2009 - Local councils move to make alfresco areas smoke-free.

2010 - Smoking inside pubs and clubs banned in every Australian state. Tobacco excise increased by 25 per cent.

*Sourced from Quit Victoria and Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues, compiled by Cancer Council Victoria.
15:20 August 22, 2012 by SydneySwine
It has just been announced today, 22 August 2012, that one of our six Federal Australian states, Tasmania, will soon enact a law banning anybody born on or after the 1st of January 2000 from purchasing or smoking any cigarettes or tabacco. A first in the world, and other Australian states are already looking to enact similar far reaching legislation. Hopefully once and for all we will stamp out this horrible practice and the clean pure air of Tasmania will be even cleaner still.
22:09 August 22, 2012 by MapleLeafs
This is why I roll my eyes every time Germans make a big fuss about Nuclear Energy or Genetically Modified Foods. Tobacco smoking kills more Germans than any Nuclear Plant or GM foods. Actually, based on anecdotal evidence - my own guess - NO ONE has died in Germany from GM foods or Nuclear Energy, but tobacco smoking most certainly does. So, as long as Germany does nothing to prevent smoking, I will turn a deaf ear to all this blah, blah, blah about GM foods and nuclear energy..
13:24 August 23, 2012 by benjahmin
Maple leaf - no one has died from GMO because it is banned here. Just look at American and UK bodies vs. German ones. Say what you like about smoking, but they have their heads screwed on elsewhere.

Smoking is a question of rights. everyone has the right to smoke, but those that dont have the right to not be eefected by Smokers. Good luck solving that old chesnut, but forcing smokers into a corner is no more morally correct than smokers doing the same to non-smokers.
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