Tobacco packaging warning messages are health warning messages that appear on the packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products. They have been implemented in an effort to enhance the public’s awareness of the harmful effects of smoking. In general, warnings used in different countries try to emphasize the same messages. Warnings for some countries are listed below. Such warnings have been commonplace in tobacco advertising for many years.
With each warning is an accompanying graphic, and detailed information on the back of the packet. In addition, cigar and loose tobacco packets show other, slightly altered warnings. These warnings target the misconception that alternative, non-cigarette tobacco products are less harmful.
“The pictorial warnings are in the process of notification and can be notified any day. There will be two types of warnings — for cigarettes and for smokeless tobacco,” Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said here on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference to highlight two years of achievements of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, he said the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), India, carried out in 2009-2010 found out that 35 per cent of adults use tobacco in some form or the other.
“Among them, 26 per cent adults use smokeless tobacco and nine per cent are smokers. Smokeless tobacco is responsible for 80 per cent of mouth cancer while 20 per cent of mouth cancers are occurring due to smoking,” he said.
Based on the results which show that smokeless tobacco products like gutka are more widely used and are causing more mouth cancers, the government is bringing a “new policy”, Mr. Azad said, adding that “harsher” pictorial warnings will be brought in for chewing tobacco.
There are two existing pictorial warnings like scorpion and damaged lungs for cigarette, while a new and stricter one — a cancer-affected mouth — was to be depicted from December one last year. Such warnings are to be rotated every year. Many well known cigarettes are Davidoff cigarettes, Lucky Strike cigarettes and Viceroy cigarettes.
Tobacco companies have requested the Ministry to increase the number of years for implementing particular programmes from the existing one year to two to three years at least. Otherwise, they cannot sell the existing cigarette stock with the retailers, and this would cause huge loss to them.
While shifting the focus on ‘smokeless tobacco’, the Centre on Monday said that it would now work on improving the pictorial warnings to curb the use of tobacco. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which focused the most of the anti-tobacco campaign on the issue of smoking, for the first time, admitted that pictorial warnings were not so effective.
Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Keshav Desiraju said that people did not understand the message of caution. “We have had feedback that people don’t understand pictorial warnings on tobacco. If there is a picture of lungs X-ray, some people are not able to understand. In some cases, picture is not clear. Again scorpion is a sign of poison, but some are not able to understand,” he said.