Post B: Tobacco Control- From Policies to Visual Statements

The size of the world smoking habit. (, 2017) 

The production and consumption of tobacco across the world has been restricted over the years due to health awareness, public law placement and increased taxes, and although the percentage of smokers has significantly dropped over the years, the issues that stem from the tobacco industry are still highly prevalent within society today.

Tobacco control is dominantly focused on individual health risks, however all phases of cigarette production, from leaf cultivation through cigarette manufacture to transportation also contribute to greenhouse gas emission responsible for global climate change (Jacobs, 2000). FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco control) published a series of reports on the environmental impacts, considering this not only as a health concern but as an environmental justice issue (Lecours, 2017).

Tobacco control is considered effective in countries that increase costs and taxes, taking inflation into consideration. In Australia, the federal excise on tobacco is adjusted twice each year in line with average weekly earnings (Gostin, 2017). This is designed to either encourage quitting rather than switching to cheaper brands, and to reduce the amount of tobacco consumed by those who do not quit (Jha, Peto, 2014). This is highly effective in low to middle income areas, however visual and emotional reminders are still necessary to address all classes. An example of this was the banning of original tobacco packaging in Australia, being replaced by confronting images of the health risks that come with smoking.

File photo of a man smoking a cigarette in front of a vending machine selling cigarettes of Japan Tobacco Inc and other cigarette companies in Tokyo
A man smoking in front of a cigarette vending machine in Tokyo. (Kok, 2017) 

In countries like Japan, where smoking is popular, cheap and legal inside a variety of venues, methods of tobacco control are slightly different. In 2000, Hyogo Prefecture in Japan launched an anti-SHS initiative, including a policy for smoking separation in all public places and workplaces (Yamada, 2015). This includes designated ‘smoking zones’ on the street and sometimes in booths, all of which the public are respectful of.

smoking campaign
Smoking Kids- by Artist Frieke Janssens 

Although policies and laws encourage smokers to stop, sometimes a strong poetic message or visualisation of the issue itself is more compelling to the public. An example of this is the somewhat controversial photographic project ‘Smoking Kids’ by artist Frieke Janssens, which was inspired by the famous Youtube video of a two year old Indonesian toddler chain smoking. The series of images portrays fifteen children between the age of four and nine posing in a startling way in front of the camera, each smoking a cigarette, cigar or pipe (Janssens, 2013).  The subjects looked as if they stepped right out of a 1960’s TV show, which adds a modestly theatrical, retro quality but also something whimsical and unreal to the images (Woensel, 2014). These images strike the viewer because the concept of smoking is something we naturally detach from youth and innocence, but why should we value our lives any less?


References: (2017). The Size of the World’s Smoking Habit | [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2017].

Salmoral, J. (2012). [online] Smoking Area Tokyo, Japan. Available at: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2017].

Kok, L. (2017). Processed meat linked to colon cancer: 7 things to know. [online] The Straits Times. Available at: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

Lecours, N., Almeida, G., Abdallah, J. and Novotny, T. (2012). Environmental health impacts of tobacco farming: a review of the literature: Table 1. Tobacco Control, 21(2), pp.191-196.

Weeks, S. (2001). Tobacco Control in Developing Countries: Prabhat Jha and Frank Chaloupka (eds) Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000 490 pp. ISBN 0-19-263246-9 (pb). Health Education Research, 16(3), pp.384-385.

Gostin, L., Magnusson, R., Krech, R., Patterson, D., Solomon, S., Walton, D., Burci, G., Cathaoir, K., Roache, S. and Kieny, M. (2017). Advancing the Right to Health—The Vital Role of Law. American Journal of Public Health, 107(13), pp.201-215.

Jha, P. Peto, R. (2014). Global effects of smoking, of quitting, and of taxing tobacco. New England Journal of Medicinepp. 60-68.

Yamada, K., Mori, N., Kashiwabara, M., Yasuda, S., Horie, R., Yamato, H., Garçon, L. and Armada, F. (2015). Industry Speed Bumps on Local Tobacco Control in Japan? The Case of Hyogo. Journal of Epidemiology, 25(7), pp.496-504.


One thought on “Post B: Tobacco Control- From Policies to Visual Statements

  1. Really detailed and informative, particularly toward the beginning, but I really like the way you integrated the artwork. Some powerful thoughts at the end. Intersting how our stance against smoking is largely inculcated, and its not just a matter of personal choice but an external influence from our youth. Very provacative artwork–thanks for sharing.

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