Monthly Archives: November 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)