Picture warnings: A missed opportunity?

Saturday 27 May 2006

ASH news release: Saturday 27 May 2006

The Government proposal to include graphic images of the health consequences of smoking on tobacco packaging is a welcome development and should help drive home the message about the hazards of smoking, said tobacco control group ASH. However, ASH warned that the impact is likely to be limited if these are placed on the rear of the cigarette packs as set out in the current European Union proposals.

Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:

“Having pictures of cancerous lungs on cigarette packs will be a stark reminder of the devastating impact of smoking and should prompt many people into quitting. But it is a great pity that these images will be relegated to the back of the packs. Having them prominently on display on the front would increase their impact and could put people off buying tobacco products. We urge the European Union to revise this requirement as soon as possible.”

ASH welcomes the fact that there will be a range of images to choose from and that they will be used in strict rotation to mirror the written warnings. Research shows that the impact of even visual warnings wears off in time and new images will be required to reinforce the message about the hazards of smoking. [2]

Deborah Arnott added:

“We urge people, especially existing smokers, to respond to the consultation to let the Government know which warnings they feel would have the greatest impact in helping them to quit or deterring people from starting to smoke.”


Notes and links:

[1]  The proposed images can be viewed here.

[2]  In Canada, for example, which was the first country in the world to include picture warnings on packs, new images are being proposed to replace the original ones.