United Kingdom - graphic warnings on cigarette packs as of October 1, 2009..


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October 1, 2009 - From the Thursday, October 1st the UK (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) will be the first country in the European Union (EU) to introduce graphic picture warnings on all tobacco products. The new warnings, which include pictures of rotting teeth and lungs, throat cancer, and a 'flaccid cigarette', will replace the written warnings currently featured on packs, which were introduced in January 2003. Photo warnings will extend other tobacco products from October 2010.



from Amanda Sandford, ASH-UK:
Just to clarify: yes health warning legislation applies to the whole of the UK. Warnings on cigarette packs have in fact been in place for the best part of a year: they started to appear from 1 October 2008 and the industry was given 12 months to make sure that all cigarette packs carried the picture warnings. (ie from 1 Oct 2009 it will be illegal to sell packs without picture warnings). The industry has a further 12 months to ensure that picture warnings are included on all remaining tobacco products that are currently required to carry written health warnings (ie hand-rolling tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigars).


Canada was the first country to introduce graphic warnings, in 2001. One year later, research demonstrated that they had significantly impacted the country’s smokers; 31 per cent of ex-smokers reported that picture warnings had motivated them to quit, and 27 per cent reported they had helped them to stay smokefree.4 Graphic warnings are also now used on tobacco products sold in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, New Zealand, Singapore, Venezuela, Thailand and Uruguay.
Written warnings have been a huge success, according to new figures released today by the Department of Health. Since their introduction five years ago, more than 90,000 smokers have been motivated by the warnings to call the NHS Smoking Helpline (0800 022 4 332). Despite much progress over the past 10 years, which has resulted in 1.9 million fewer smokers since 1982, smoking continues to be the biggest killer in England and causes the premature death of over 87,000 people each year in England alone. The visual wake-up calls are expected to be even more effective than written warnings. Research suggests that warnings should be changed periodically to maintain effectiveness, and smokers are more likely to remember the damage they are doing to their health if they have seen a picture.

The visual wake-up calls are expected to be even more effective than written warnings. Research suggests that warnings should be changed periodically to maintain effectiveness, and smokers are more likely to remember the damage they are doing to their health if they have seen a picture.

Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said: “I welcome the introduction of picture warnings on tobacco product packaging, which shows smokers the grim reality of the effects of smoking can have on their health. This will help to maintain the momentum of the increasing number of people who have given up smoking following England going smoke free in 2007. Written health warnings have encouraged many smokers to stop smoking. These new stark picture warnings emphasise the harsh realities of continuing to smoke. I hope they will make many more think hard about giving up and get the help they need to stop smoking for good.”

Imperial Tobacco, the world's fourth largest international tobacco company, CEO Gareth Davis says he does not believe graphic warnings would change the behavior of smokers and he has seen no evidence that they have an impact. (Imperial Tobacco Group has today submitted its response to the UK Government document: "Consultation on the future of tobacco control", September 8, 2008)

More on graphic warnings: Campaign for Effective Health Warnings on Cigarette Packs..

References: STARK PICTURE WARNINGS ON TOBACCO PACKETS FROM 1ST OCT, Smokefree North West, 9/27/2009; Would you buy Brand X cigarettes? by Finlo Rohrer, BBC News Magazine, 9/30/2009; Cigarette packet picture warnings introduced, Medcines and Older People, NHS, 10/2/2008; Graphic images to target smokers, BBC, 9/26/2008.

A few related news briefs: Updated - England - tobacco display ban - the Lords got it right..; EU - planning a new study aimed at developing better graphic images..; Gruesome Photos on British Cigarette Packs..; British considering banning logos on cigarette packs, other measures..

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