New Zealand - graphic warnings cigarette maker selects less offensive images..

September 29, 2009 - British American Tobacco (BAT) today, September 28th rejected claims it is undermining the law by not following regulations on the use of graphic warnings on cigarette packets.

Researchers at Otago University said a new study of bought and discarded cigarette packs showed the regulations were not being met. Graphic warnings became mandatory in August 2008 and tobacco companies are required to evenly distribute various images over all cigarette packs.

Otago marketing professor Janet Hoek said the most offensive graphics were printed less frequently than other "less disturbing" images. BAT today rejected the findings.

British American Tobacco's graphic health warnings meet all legal requirements," a spokeswoman said. "The Ministry of Health has not raised any concerns with us in this regard."

Dr Hoek said use of "less offensive" graphics, including images of a diseased mouth or eye, undercut the law and public health policy. "Tobacco companies have made it clear they dislike the new regulations on graphic health warnings, and these findings suggest they may be trying to minimise the impact of the new law."

Dr Hoek said tobacco companies should be required to submit the warnings' print run information.

PAPER: Distribution of new graphic warning labels: Are tobacco companies following regulations? Nick Wilson, Jo Peace, Judy Li, Richard Edwards, Janet Hoek, James Stanley and George Thomson, University of Otago, Tobacco Induced Diseases 2009, 5:14, Full Paper...

About 5000 New Zealanders die of smoking related illnesses each year. More than 700,000 New Zealanders smoke, nearly half of Maori smoke.

Reference: Tobacco companies undermining law - researcher, Otago Daily Times, 9/28/2009.

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