Zambian doctor praises Australia’s ground-breaking stance on tobacco

A leading Zambian doctor has praised the ground breaking new tobacco packaging laws recently brought in by Australia.

Dr Zaza Nthele, head clinical care at the Livingstone General Hospital, described the new law, which requires tobacco products to be sold in plain, logoless packages with graphic images of tobacco-related diseases, as “a good thing”.

“There are so many medical conditions that can be stopped by one stopping smoking and the Australian way is a good thing, noting that Zambia has by-laws that prohibit public smoking,” Dr Nthele said.

Dr Nthele added that a smoker is 30 times more likely to get cancer. However, he noted that smoking is an addiction that is very difficult to stop.

Australia is the first country to require plain packaging and is currently being sued by tobacco giant Philip Morris Asia under a bilateral trade agreement with China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Last Thursday [March 22] at the 15th World Conference on Tobacco and Health, World Health Organization (WHO) in Singapore, director general Margaret Chan urged the world to “stand shoulder to shoulder” against the tobacco industry’s attempts to overturn Australia’s new path breaking tobacco control law.

“We must make plain packaging a big success so that it becomes the success of the world,” Dr Chan said. Dr Chan applauded Australia’s determination in fighting tobacco industry intimidation.

“If we stand shoulder to shoulder, together, no tobacco industry can survive. The fact that they are so desperate, I take it as an indication that the industry sees the writing on the wall. This is the death throe of the addicting industry,” Dr Chan said.

She said tactics aimed at undermining anti-tobacco campaigns, and subverting the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, are no longer covert or cloaked by an image of corporate social responsibility.

“They are out in the open and they are extremely aggressive,” Dr Chan said.

Professor Jane Halton, secretary of Australia’s department of health and ageing, said Australia will defend itself vigorously against the suit.


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I'm a journalist with Zambia's only daily private newspaper and based in Livingstone. I'm passionate about issues that improve the lives of women and children, I also like learning about people's lifestyles especially those that live with HIV and AIDS. I'm married with one daughter and a trained trainer with the AIDS and Human Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (ARASA).


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