We would like to take this opportunity to share that the Health Promotion Board (HPB) had conducted surveys following the implementation of the graphic warning labels on cigarette packs to ascertain the effectiveness and responses to the graphic warnings. We are pleased to share that our surveys with more than 1,000 respondents showed that 28 per cent smoked fewer cigarettes, while 21 per cent made efforts to abstain from smoking. Also, 54 per cent of non-smokers who were surveyed advised their friends and colleagues to quit. In addition, the QuitLine saw a three-fold increase in the number of callers who sought advice on quitting after the graphic health warning labels were introduced.
This strategy of graphic health warnings is in line with the World Health Organization's (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global treaty involving over 170 countries to date, to which Singapore is also a signatory.
Graphic health warnings on cigarette packs are based on strong evidence and Singapore is among one of the countries which has mandated them to combat tobacco use. A recent WHO publication also highlighted findings from Australia and New Zealand that indicated that graphic health warnings improved knowledge of smoking harms and cessation related behaviour.
Of smokers surveyed in Australia, 57 per cent said that graphic health warnings have helped them to think about quitting. Of those who have quit, 62 per cent said the warning labels have helped them give up smoking.
However, we wish to assure Mr Ho that graphic health warning labels on cigarette packs are just one of the many measures that Singapore has adopted in our smoking control efforts. Tobacco control measures have to be holistic as legislation alone may not be sufficient to deter smoking.
Hence, the HPB, as the national driver of the National Tobacco Control Programme, adopts a multi-pronged strategy that encompasses taxation, legislation and programmes to help those who smoke to kick the habit as well as encourage the public to adopt a tobacco-free lifestyle.
Reference: Graphic warnings on cigarette packs found effective: HPB survey Letter from Lam Pin Woon Chief Executive Officer Health Promotion Board, TodayOnline.com, 11/18/2010.
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