Yearly Archives: 2009

Cigarette producers sue to reduce size of graphic images

Dec 7, 2009

National Cigarette and Health Committee (SSUK) legal advisor Turgut Kazan has announced that tobacco manufacturers PhilSA, Philip MorrisSA and British American Tobacco (BAT) have filed a lawsuit with the Council of State to shrink the mandatory size of new graphic images which will be obligatory to print on cigarette packages starting on Jan. 1, 2010.


The companies complain that the requirement of putting images on the front of cigarette packages in an attempt to reduce tobacco consumption by exposing the adverse consequences of smoking will prevent competition in the sector. The images necessitated by the regulations must cover at least 65 percent of the packages, the companies note, arguing that this will make it virtually impossible to put their brand logos on the packages. The companies also argue that the new obligation infringes on their commercial freedoms as bestowed by international trade rules.


Kazan said the Thorax Association, which includes doctors who specialize in eye diseases within the SSUK, will be involved in the case as an interested party. “The tobacco companies have demanded a stay of execution before. The case is in the Council of State’s docket currently,” Kazan noted. He claimed that the regulations are not in conflict with rules of competition or any relevant international laws, adding that they had full confidence that the Council of State will settle the case accordingly.


SSUK President Elif Dağlı also argued that the graphic images covering 65 percent of the packages does not contradict EU standards, which she claimed allows these images to cover more than 50 percent of cigarette packages. “It would be unacceptable to deprive Turkey of its right to protect its public health while other countries are conducting similar campaigns without any obstacle,” she noted. She said selling tobacco products in embellished, attractive packages is very harmful. Currently, 22 million people in Turkey are smokers, she asserted, adding that $20 billion is spent on tobacco products. “This money is being completely burned away and lost. Not only is our money lost, but people’s health is also seriously harmed,” she said and added that another $30 billion is lost in terms of health expenditures to cure smoking-related diseases. Dağlı also rejected claims from tobacco companies that the images have no deterrent effect on smoking, saying, “All studies have proven that theseimages are very effective indeed and cause a nearly 5 percent decline in cigarette consumption.”


Source: Today’s Zaman (December 7, 2009)

Malta: Death and decay on cigarette packs by 2011

Dec 2, 2009

Gruesome images of decaying teeth, blackened lungs, tumours and even dead people, will become the latest additions to the warnings on tobacco packets in Malta, this newspaper has learnt. The colour illustrations are officially scheduled to be printed on cigarette boxes by April 2011, and on other tobacco products by October 2011. The rules will implement European Union laws introduced back in 2003 on using photographs to depict the health consequences of smoking. Tobacco packages will now carry a combined warning with pictures, which will be rotated at least once a year to guarantee the regular appearance of all of the additional warnings. Pictures will warn smokers of the prospects of lung and throat cancer, accelerated ageing, the harmful effects of second-smoke on family relatives and infants, and dental decay. Tobacco deaths account for over 500,000 deaths every year in the European Union. According to a March 2009 Eurobarometer survey, 26% of EU citizens aged 15 and over smoke daily. But another half claim they have never smoked and 22% say they have quit smoking. In fact, 54% of Maltese respondents claim they have never smoked.
The proportion of smokers is the highest in Greece (42%), followed by Bulgaria (39%), Latvia (37%), Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (all 36%). Interestingly, the Maltese rank second after Italy in mostly favouring the smoking ban in restaurants at 80%. They are however less enthusiastic about the smoking ban in bars, with 65% in favour of the ban. A great majority of Maltese (65%) also think anti-smoking messages are not very effective in Malta.

Support for labelling

Supporters of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packages believe more smokers report getting information about the risks of smoking from packages than any other source except television. Pack-a-day smokers are potentially exposed to the warnings over 7,000 times per year. Pictures increase the vividness of health communications, and are consistently rated by smokers to be more effective and engaging than text-only warnings, because they arouse emotion through “graphic” depictions of health risks. In 2002, a survey of 9,058 smokers was conducted across four countries to determine the effectiveness of such images on cigarette packages. In Canada, where pictorial warnings on packages included information about the risks of impotence, smokers were nearly three times more likely to agree that smoking causes impotence when compared with smokers from the US, UK and Australia where there were no such images. The results confirmed that warnings that are graphic, larger and more comprehensive in content are also shown to be more effective in communicating the health risks of smoking.

Source: Malta Today (November 1, 2009)

Turkey to add pictorial health warnings to cigarette packages

Nov 23, 2009

Turkey will add visual health warning messages to cigarette packages produced as of Jan. 1, 2010, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported Sunday.

Chairman Mehmet Kucuk of the Turkish Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulation Board (TAPDK) told the agency that cigarette packages produced before Dec. 31, 2009 which only have written warning signs can be sold till June 30, 2010.

There will be no cigarette packages without visual warning messages in Turkey as of Jan. 1, 2011, Kucuk said.

There will be 14 pictures, which will be chosen from 42 sample pictures in the European Union’s system, on tobacco product packages to draw people’s attention to the harm of cigarettes, the chairman was quoted of saying.

Visual warning on cigarette packages is used in countries including Britain, Belgium, Romania, Brazil, Thailand and Singapore, the agency said.

A smoking ban came into effect across Turkey on July 19, extending an earlier prohibition on smoking to all public indoor areas including cafes, bars and restaurants.

Under the new rule, it is also illegal to advertise and promote tobacco products or the names and brands of tobacco producers, while TV channels and radios have to air at least 90 minutes of programs on the harmful effects of tobacco products every month.

Source: Xinhua (November 22, 2009)

Influence of cigarette pack design on youth

Nov 17, 2009

Plainer cigarette packages, perceived as boring or unattractive, would make smoking much less appealing to teens, according to a new Australian study.

Even before adolescents try smoking, they have preconceived ideas about what smoking is like. They often glean these images from the appeal of a cigarette pack. Colors, images, logos and font sizes all play a part in increasing teens’ susceptibility to future tobacco use.

“We found that when branding is progressively removed from a cigarette pack, adolescents not only perceive the packs to be less attractive, they associate the brand with people who have less favorable attributes. They also assume the cigarettes have a more negative taste,” said study co-author Melanie Wakefield, Ph.D.

Wakefield is director of the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer of the Cancer Council Victoria. The study appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The researchers asked parents of teens between age 14 and 17 if they would allow their children to participate in an online survey about cigarette packaging. Parents were told the survey results would help guide Australia’s tobacco control policies.

Using three popular Australian cigarette brands, the researchers looked at how adolescents perceived cigarette packs and what their expectations were about cigarette taste. The packs showed a gradual diminishment of brand information on the front and a progressively larger-sized health warning. Researchers randomly assigned each teen to rate one of 15 pack conditions.

“Although plain packs are perceived to be unattractive, we found that increasing the size of the health warning on the front further reduces the pack’s appeal,” Wakefield said. “This also includes teens who had already experienced smoking and are most likely to go on to a lifetime of regular smoking,”

“This is an important paper because it shows that graphical warning labels and plain packaging make a real difference in how adolescents perceive smoking and cigarettes,” said Stanton Glantz, Ph.D., director at the University of California-San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research.

“The study points to the need for the FDA to act quickly to impose strong, effective graphical warnings and plain packaging in the U.S. It also shows that we can expect the tobacco companies to fight effective action tooth and nail,” Glantz said.

Wakefield agreed: “If parents supported moves to strip as much branding off cigarette packs as possible, that one element of marketing that makes smoking attractive could be reduced.”


Source: Health Behavior News Service (November 9, 2009)

Pictorial warnings in India largely ineffective

Nov 6, 2009

Pictorial warnings on cigarette packs in place since June are ‘ineffective and are violative of law’, a study stated here today.

The study on the warnings conducted by health research organization Healis, in the metropolis, has stated that the warning labels were poor, and did not cover 40 per cent of the pack as mandated by law. The warnings, mostly in English, were also not comprehended by consumers, negating its intention, but the pictorial warnings did not serve any purpose either as they were deemed confusing and associated very ”unscientifically.” ”Despite the two-year delay in getting the pictorial warnings implemented, the diluted versions of the warnings actually used compared to samples presented to the Health and Family Welfare, shows the government is not commited to implementing the warnings. The study has proved the point that these warnings are not effective, with the layperson interpreting it in his own way instead of interpreting them for what they signify,” stated Healis Sekhsaria Institute for public Health, Director, Dr P C Gupta.

The two-month study conducted from July was followed by a field survey to confirm the results of the study, which included confusion over the pictorial warnings, failure to associate tobacco smoking with the health risks and lack of clarity.


Source: (November 4, 2009)

India: Pictorial warnings on cigarette packs watered down

Nov 5, 2009

Pictorial warnings on cigarette packets recently introduced by the government are about to be phased out, reports say. It is a clear attempt to safe guard the interest of the people involved in the tobacco industry and to keep the government’s crucial vote bank intact.


Initially, there were some gruesome pictures that depicted the worse possible effects of tobacco on the human body. These pictures were first notified by the Health Ministry in July 2006 as pictorial warnings for cigarette and gutka packets. But these pictures were shot down by the Group of Ministers (GoM) as ‘objectionable’.


Former Union Labour Minister, Oscar Fernandes said, “If we’re talking about making the pictures harsher, we may as well shut down the industry. There are several districts in West Bengal where poor bidi workers earn their livelihood from this.”


In a meeting of the GoM chaired by Pranab Mukherjee in July 2007, it was decided that the picture of the dead body be replaced with a ‘suitable’ one.


The minutes of the meeting available with CNN-IBN show that in the GoM, Pranab Mukharjee said, “A number of representations have been received from the bidi industry that employs a large number of workers from the weaker sections of society. The basic issues raised by the bidi industry relate to the size, colour and obnoxious nature of the pictorial warnings. Keeping this is view, the pictorial warnings may be modified.”


The GOM also asked the Health Ministry to consult the Ministry of Law and remove the ‘skull and cross bone’ as a warning sign.


On February 26, 2008 the GoM finalized the pictures in which the pictorial warnings were completely watered down from the graphic ones to ones that make one wonder if the warnings are in fact serious enough or not.


Pranab Mukhejee won from the Jangipur constituency. It is notable that the Jangipur constituency has a sizable population of bidi workers. Votebank politics may well affect the way the smoke blows in the bidi, cigarette warning.


Source: CNN-IBN (November 3, 2009)

Graphic warnings in Malta

Oct 21, 2009

Graphic images highlighting the dangers of smoking will soon be displayed on all tobacco products sold in Malta, director general of public health Ray Busuttil revealed on Tuesday.

A legal notice announcing the new regulations on tobacco packaging is expected to be issued by the end of this month, Dr Busuttil said at a press conference on EU anti-smoking campaign Help.

Health Promotion Department director Charmaine Gauci said that statistics showed that although the prevalence of smoking in Malta has been decreasing in recent years, the reverse was true among schoolchildren.

Dr Gauci noted that the smoking did not only adversely affect the lungs, but also presented numerous other problems. These include a greater susceptibility to infection, including, among others, to the pandemic H1N1 flu, she pointed out.

Stephen D’Alessandro, explaining the Help campaign, noted that addressing smoking among the young was a prime concern. Since peer pressure might pressure young people to smoke, the campaign has to address the perception that smoking is desirable, he said.

The second Help campaign, launched last May, follows the footsteps of the first campaign, which ran from 2005 to 2008, in targeting the young, illustrating the absurdity of smoking through humorous TV spots while leading them to the campaign website,, where serious advice is provided.

Its message aims to address 3 main objectives: prevention, cessation and passive smoking.

This time round, the campaign aims to be more interactive, inviting people to submit their own video tips on its website. In addition, young people have not only been the primary target of the campaign, but they have also participated in the strategy and development of the campaign.


Full article: DI-VE News (October 20, 2009)

Norway: Pictorial warnings in 2011

Oct 14, 2009

On October 12, 2009, Norway’s Ministry of Health and Care Services announced that all cigarette packs in Norway will carry a pictorial health warning by July 2011. The press release from the Ministry included the following information:

-Research shows that pictorial warnings are far more efficient than textual warnings. Pictorial warnings are easier to remember, communicate health risks more clearly and increase the motivation to quit smoking, says State Secretary Ellen Birgitte Pedersen at the Ministry of Health and Care Services.

A public consultation was carried out earlier this year, and the proposed pictorial health warnings were supported by nearly all stakeholders.

The new regulations will come into force 1 January 2010. Cigarettes must carry pictorial health warnings by 1 July 2011 at the latest, while other tobacco products must carry such warnings by 1 January 2012.

Pictorial health warnings will reduce the advertising effect of brands and logos on tobacco products. Even though the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) has banned the visible display of tobacco products at points of sale from 1 January 2010, the tobacco product health warnings will still be visible after purchase.

The EU has developed a library of pictorial health warnings, and the selection of pictorial warnings to be used in Norway has been based upon submissions to the public hearing and recommendations from the Directorate for Health.
Full Article: New Zealand Ministry of Health and Care Services (October 12, 2009)

Thailand’s New Picture Cigarette Pack Warnings Officially Law

Oct 2, 2009

The new graphic health warning regulation of Thailand has been printed in the Royal Gazette on September 30, 2009.  It will become effective in six months, allowing another three months for the phase out of products with the old warnings.  Lobbying by the industry prevented a shorter phase out.  In addition, one cigarette company submitted a letter questioning the health benefit of increasing the size of the graphic warnings from 50 to 55%.  Obviously, if there really were no benefit, then there would be no reason to oppose the change.

The new graphic warning will contain ten pictures, seven the same as previously used.  We have had difficulty finding suitable pictures, indicating a need for an international graphic picture bank.  New features in the new regulation include:
There are 3 new pictures. The size of the pictures on both principle pack surfaces is 55% of the surface. The warning will include the 1600 national quit line number Each carton is required to have all 10 pictures printed on it. Inside each carton must be packs with at least two different graphic warnings


Source: Professor Prakit Vathesatogkit, Advisor to the Tobacco Control Office, Thai Ministry of Public Health

Pakistan: Tobacco lobby may delay pictorial warnings on cigarette packs

Sept 23, 2009

Pakistan’s tobacco lobby may force the government to delay its decision over cigarette packs carrying pictorial health warnings, sources in the Health Ministry said on Sunday.


On World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the government had announced the introduction of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs and had given the industry a six-month deadline to print them from January 1, 2010. However, soon after the announcement, the tobacco industry held a number of meetings with senior Health Ministry officials to attempt to reverse or delay the implementation of pictorial warnings. The ministry had started work on legislation for introduction of warnings on cigarette packs in consultation with the Ministry of Law, but the tobacco lobby is busy trying to delay the process.


Examples: The industry contended that it could not print the warnings within six months and quoted examples of Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Romania and India, which took more than two years to publish the pictorial warnings on cigarette packs. The picture-based health warnings are particularly significant for countries like Pakistan with poor literacy rate and inadequacy of resources for public health education, and where majority of the people cannot read warnings and remain oblivious to the harmful effects of tobacco use. By introducing pictorial warnings, Pakistan would join 30 countries having similar warnings. Pakistan is signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which binds more than 160 countries to use large, clear, visible and legible warnings on packs and outer packaging.


Full Article: Pakistan’s Daily Times (September 21, 2009)