Turkey - smokers re-packaging cigarettes to avoid looking at graphic warnings..

August 23, 2010 - Nicotine addicts intimidated by the warnings and unsightly pictures on cigarette packages have new options available to them.

Background: The Council of State (highest administrative court in Turkey) has ruled that a Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Agency (TAPDK) regulation requiring picture-based health warnings on cigarette packages will go into effect on May 1, rejecting Turkish tobacco producers’ third appeal against the regulation.

The regulation requires all cigarette packaging to carry a graphic warning on one side covering 65 percent of the surface of the pack.

Tobacco producers appealed to the Council of the State for the third time in April, 2010, citing a law that states that a warning about the effects of tobacco on health must cover 40 percent of a package. Rejecting the appeal, the Council of State confirmed that the requirement for picture-based health warnings would go into effect on May 1, 2010.

Tobacco producers can choose from among 14 pictures to use on cigarette packages. The pictures include a cadaver in a morgue, a healthy and a cancerous lung, a sick person at death’s door and a teenager hooked up to a breathing machine. If tobacco firms fail to include warning pictures on cigarette packages produced after May 1, they will be fined at least TL 250 (163.90 USD). Back in July there were complaints that warnings on cigarette packages caused debate for not being strong enough deterrents as the Turkish Health Ministry reportedly deems one in particular unfit for Turkish family values - a warning in Turkish underneath the photo translates as 'Smoking slows down blood flow and causes impotence.' (Turkish nation warned about cigarette warnings, Özgür Öğret ISTANBUL, Hürriyet Daily News, 7/14/2010)

Graphic warnings on cigarette packs starting May 1, ÇAĞLAR AVCI İSTANBUL, Today's Zaman, 4/30/2010.

Other directly related news briefs:
December 13, 2009 - Turkey - court overrules TAPDK on tobacco labels..;
December 7, 2009 - Turkey - cigarette producers sue to reduce size of graphic images..;
November 23, 2009 - Turkey - graphic/written warning labels starting January 1, 2010..;

The warning packages, produced due to government rules and regulations, are meant to deter consumers from smoking. Most of the pictures on cigarette packages belong to unhealthy people who claim they lost their health because of their addiction to cigarettes. The visual warnings, however, have allegedly caused problems, according to smokers.

In response to the unsightly pictures, some people have taken to repacking their smokes in nostalgic boxes. Others prefer to buy packages produced by a smart entrepreneur that show pictures of flowers or beautiful scenes. These “colorful” packages can be found in a variety of supermarkets and stationary shops. They start from 1 Turkish Lira.

Associations that are against smoking are reportedly objecting to using alternative packages regarding the statistics that show a decrease in the number of addicted smokers after the warning pictures were put on the packages.

Reference: Alternative cigarette packages hit shelves in Turkey, ANKARA- Anatolia News Agency, Hurriyet Daily News, 8/22/2010.