Plain cigarette packaging could drive 300,000 Britons to quit smoking

Review by research organisation Cochrane suggests impact of UKs ban on branded packs could echo results seen in Australia

Plain cigarette cartons featuring large, graphic health warnings could persuade 300,000 people in the UK to quit smoking if the measure has the effect it had in Australia, scientists say.

Standardised cigarette packaging will be compulsory in the UK from 20 May. A new review from the independent health research organisation Cochrane on the impact of plain packaging around the world has found that it does affect the behaviour of smokers.

In the UK, the tobacco industry has become increasingly innovative in the design of cigarette packets as other controls on sales and advertising have taken hold, according to Ann McNeill, professor of tobacco addiction at Kings College London. The tobacco industry has been focusing its efforts on the tobacco packs, she said.

Among those that will be banned are vibrant pink packets, targeted at young women, and gimmicky cartons that slide rather than flip open. The rules that come into force next month require all packs to look alike, with graphic health warnings across 65% of their surface.

The Cochrane reviewers found 51 studies that looked at standardised packaging and its impact on smokers, but only one country had implemented the rule fully at the time. Australia brought in plain packs in 2012.

Analysing the evidence from Australia, the team found a reduction in smoking of 0.5% up to one year after the policy was introduced. According to the Australian government, that translates to 100,000 people no longer smoking. The decline was attributable specifically to plain packaging, after taking into account the continuing drop in the numbers of smokers caused by other tobacco control measures.

Dr Jamie Hartmann-Boyce of the Cochrane tobacco addiction group at Oxford Universitys Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences said: We are not able to say for sure what the impact would be in the UK, but if the same magnitude of decrease was seen in the UK as was observed in Australia, this would translate to roughly 300,000 fewer smokers following the implementation of standardised packaging.

The review found signs that more people were trying to quit smoking as a result of plain cartons, rising from 20.2% before to 26.6% after introduction. There was also evidence that standardised packs were less attractive to those who did not smoke, making it less likely that they would start.

However, the researchers say variations in the way countries are introducing standardised packs may affect the outcomes. Some allow different colours, slightly different carton shapes and the use of descriptive words such as gold or smooth.

Cancer Research UK backs plain packaging. Smoking kills 100,000 people in the UK every year, so we support any effective measure which can help reduce this devastating impact. The evidence shows that standardised packaging works and helps to reduce smoking rates, said George Butterworth, the charitys tobacco policy manager.

Its too soon to see the impact in the UK, as the new legislation will only be fully implemented in May, but we hope to see similar positive results as the UK strives towards a day when no child smokes tobacco. Cancer Research UK is continuing to evaluate the impact of standardised packaging in the UK and will share the lessons with other countries who are considering introducing them.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers group Forest, said the idea that plain packaging would have an impact on the number of smokers in the UK was based on hope and anecdotal evidence.

Since plain packaging was introduced in Australia, smoking rates have fallen, but only in line with historical trends, he said. Its grasping at straws to credit plain packaging with the continued reduction in smoking rates, because the most significant anti-smoking measure in recent years in Australia has been a massive increase in tobacco taxation. Like graphic health warnings, the novelty of plain packaging quickly wears off.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/apr/27/plain-cigarette-packaging-could-drive-300000-britons-to-quit-smoking

It’s the worst possible time for ‘Girlboss’ on Netflix

Britt Robertson as Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso in 'Girlboss.'
Image: Karen Ballard/netflix

When Netflix signed on for Girlboss, it probably sounded like a great idea. Feminism, fashion, and San Francisco? We were about to have our first female president, so what could go wrong?

When the show starts streaming on Friday, things will be a little different. Not only are we living in Trump’s America, but Nasty Gal, the multi-million-dollar startup the show was based on, is bankrupt. The soul-searching of the feminist movement post-election has caused more people to realize that feminism as used by businesses to sell their products, no matter how cool, is at least an incompatible match, if not an entirely hypocritical one.

Girlboss is fictional. The show, based on the 2014 book #Girlboss by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, follows a 23-year-old, shoplifting, aimless version of Amoruso who can’t keep a job and has an epiphany when she makes hundreds selling a $9 thrift store leather jacket on eBay. Through the series’ 13 episodes she steals a rug, eats her boss’s sandwich, launches an eBay store, dates a drummer, goes on a worse version of the San Francisco tour from The Princess Diaries, and eventually reaches the early days of Nasty Gal.

As a TV show, Girlboss has its own problems character, story, and all that. But it’s also arriving at the absolute worst time.

Nasty Gal, launched in 2006 as Amoruso’s vintage eBay store that grew into an ecommerce success story with $300 million in sales, filed for bankruptcy in November. Before that, the company had two rounds of layoffs and was hit with a lawsuit alleging the site fired women when they got pregnant. On the fashion side of things, the once edgy site faced a slew of more affordable, teen-friendly competitors like Tobi and Missguided.

Weeks before the show debuted, the similarly buzzy (albeit style-wise, very different) ModCloth was bought by the less-than-feminist Walmart. Before that, Thinx founder Miki Agrawal stepped down from her prominent role as the period underwear startup’s CEO, kicking off a barrage of stories about her company’s inappropriate work environment and a sexual harassment complaint from a former employee.

Not to mention, our president is Donald Trump, a result that has inspired a re-evaluation of feminism’s aims as a political movement and whether a version of feminism that centers its praise on individual women who make the Forbes list has any use anymore (or ever did).

If Amoruso’s #Girlboss (the book) were just a memoir, its television adaptation might be able to skate by as a period piece, capturing a particular mid-2000s moment in fashion and Silicon Valley. But #Girlboss was also a manifesto about how to be a feminist success, just like Amoruso. Since stepping down as Nasty Gal’s CEO in 2015, Amoruso has leaned into her #Girlboss brand. She published a second book, the “lushly illustrated embodiment of the collective spirit of the Nasty Gal brand, Sophias own personal brand, and girlbosses everywhereNasty Galaxy, in 2016.

Even with the disclaimer that appears before every episode of the Netflix show “what follows is a loose telling of true events… real loose” something about the show just doesn’t sit right. A story that glorifies startup success found through a particular kind of male-inspired determination, with a title that’s always been connected to some sort of feminism, is unsettling in 2017. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend co-creator Rachel Bloom released a music video at a Vanity Fair conference on women entrepreneurs gently mocking the many flaws in the “Girlboss” idea. That just so happened to take place the day before the Netflix show’s debut.

This all isn’t entirely Girlboss‘s fault. The show’s creators, who have emphasized that the show is fictional, couldn’t have known that their project would arrive in this political moment, or after a rush of feminist startup failures. In the alternate timeline where Hillary Clinton won (maybe helped by Nasty Gal’s “Nasty Woman” t-shirts), the show would probably feel fine, I guess, even if Nasty Gal were still bankrupt.

The issue isn’t that the protagonist is unlikeable although she is, which is kind of the point. That’s fine! It’s just that for anyone who has any idea about Girlboss‘s real-world origins, it’s impossible to watch the show without remembering that origin story and its eventual disappointments.

Girlboss ends with Sophia launching the real, independent Nasty Gal. Maybe by season two, we’ll all be able to separate the show’s narrative from where its inspiration ended up.

WATCH: Lady Gaga FaceTimed with Prince William to discuss a very important issue

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/04/20/girlboss-netflix-nasty-gal-timing/