New Zealand - Images helping people quit smoking..

January 23, 2009 - Two years ago, when the introduction of photographic health warnings on cigarette packets were announced, a quarter of New Zealanders smoked. Now, almost a year after the graphic reminders of the health risks of smoking appeared on every tobacco product sold in this country, that has dropped to one in five Kiwis. "It's a huge gain. It equates to 170,000 less smokers," the Ministry of Health's national director of tobacco control, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said.

Background: Graphic warnings on tobacco product were introduced in New Zealand on 28 February 2008 and retailers had up to six months to comply. The warnings cover 30% of the front and 90% of the back of the packaging. Each warning label contains a picture depicting health effect(s) caused by smoking, and is enhanced by a warning message printed in both English and te reo Maori (the language of the indigenous people of New Zealand). Another positive aspect of the new warnings is a supportive cessation message included on the back of the packaging with the quitline number. (New Zealand: new graphic warnings encourage regiatraions with the quitline, J Li and M Grigg, The Quit Group, PO Box 12605, Wellington 6144, New Zealand ,Tobacco Control 2009;18:72)

Next month, the images of gangrenous toes, diseased lungs and smoking-damaged hearts will be replaced with rotting teeth and gums, a bleeding brain and a severely clogged artery. Ben Youdan, director of anti-tobacco group Action on Smoking and Health New Zealand (Ash) said the warnings needed to be changed regularly because people got used to them very quickly.

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Reference: Images credited with helping 170,000 stub out bad habit, Fairfax Media, The Press (, 1/20/2009.