Rebranding tobacco: Greece’s tobacco epidemic

Rebranding tobacco: Greece’s tobacco epidemic

The United States has made drastic efforts over the last 50 years to decrease cigarette smoking.  In 1966, the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act was issued, mandating that cigarette packaging display health hazards to inform the public. Smoking in public places was then banned in the 1980’s, and tobacco advertisements were no longer allowed to air on television or radio.  State taxes have also risen, establishing economic barriers between cigarettes and its consumers.


These efforts have led to low smoking rates in the United States, despite that it is still the leading cause of preventable death. In 1965, the smoking rate in the United States was 42.4 percent, but today it is under 18 percent.


Hand holding a lit cigarette in a restaurant

Although smoking indoors in public spaces in Greece is legally disallowed, the public largely ignores these laws. (

Now, the same efforts are being exerted beyond the United States. Greece consumes about 40 percent of the total tobacco use in the European Union. In 2010, the Greek government banned smoking in public spaces. Prime Minister George Papandreou said, “it will contribute to the work we’re doing that’s aimed at changing attitudes, norms, and behaviour to improve our quality of life.” Unfortunately, these enforcements haven’t rid the country of its bad habit.


Unfortunately, it appears as though attempts to curb smoking may only prove to be futile efforts.  In 2012, $9 billion was spent on tobacco advertising alone, proving that the image of tobacco is hard to reshape.  However, at the interest for a healthy country, a serious mission of re-branding needs to take place.


What are your impression of tobacco? Have your ideas on the substance changed over the years? If so, how? Share your thoughts below in the comments section or on Twitter @ryanlawlessness.

Ryan Lawless

Ryan Lawless is an undergraduate student at Fordham University. He studies English and Spanish as majors, and philosophy as a minor. He won the Margaret Lamb Writing to the Right-Hand Margin award for creative fictional writing, and has been published in Fordham's literary magazine The Ampersand, and its newspaper, The Observer. Ryan grew up in New York, but is also an Irish citizen. He enjoys fiddles, coffee, and music.

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