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Latest smoking deterrent — graphic images

Graphic pictures that illustrate the effects of smoking — from rotting teeth to throat cancer — will start to appear on cigarette packets sold in the UK from 1 October 2008, the Department of Health has revealed.

The pictures, which will also include a flaccid cigarette to show how smoking can damage male potency, will replace the written health warnings that have featured since January 2003.

The UK will be the first country in the EU to carry the stark pictures although Canada has been using similar illustrations to warn smokers about the health risks they run since 2001.

A year after the illustrations first appeared in Canada, 31 per cent of smokers revealed they had been a factor in forcing them to quit while 27 per cent said the pictures had helped persuade them to continue to remain smoke-free. The UK is hoping to see a similar impact, since smoking remains the single largest contributory cause of death. Although 1.9 million smokers have given up the habit since 1992, smoking still claims more than 87,000 lives every year in England alone.

Announcing the initiative, England’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, said: “Written health warnings have encouraged many smokers to stop smoking. These new stark picture warnings emphasise the harsh health realities of continuing to smoke. I hope they will make many more think hard about giving up and get the help they need to stop smoking for good.”

The pictures will appear on cigarette packets from this October alongside one of 15 new written warnings that will be used in rotation. The pictorial health warnings will start to appear on other tobacco products from October 2010.

Other countries outside the EU that already use graphic illustrations on cigarette packs as part of their health promotion campaigns are Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10033543

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