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Health groups call for bigger graphic health warnings and a move to plain packaging on cigarettes

Wednesday 27 February, 2008

Graphic health warnings on cigarette packs should be made larger, and the tobacco industry should be made to adopt plain packaging on their deadly products say health groups on the 3rd anniversary of the global treaty on tobacco control.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) came into force in international law in 2005 with a three-year deadline for ratifying countries, including Australia, to meet obligations around the packaging and labelling of cigarettes.

These obligations focus on the preferred size of the warnings on cigarette packs and also outline that the actual content of the messages should be changed regularly.

Executive Director of Quit Victoria, Ms Fiona Sharkie, said although Australia is doing well by international standards when it comes to tobacco control, there is more that could be done to curb the devastating toll of tobacco in the Australian community.

"The three-year anniversary of the FCTC provides us with an opportunity to look at packaging and labelling of cigarettes and identify what more can be done to keep smokers informed about the consequences of tobacco use and limit the tobacco industry from using the cigarette pack as miniature advertising billboard."

"The introduction of graphic health warnings on cigarettes was one of the most important policy initiatives in recent years, we must now build on this and put processes in place to systematically update graphic health warnings and make them a larger feature of cigarette packaging."

Ms Sharkie said Australia was currently not in the top 10 internationally when it comes to the size of health warnings on the front of cigarette packs, which is the most important area.

"More prominent health warnings are associated with greater levels of awareness among smokers, so we are calling for an increase in the size of the graphic warnings on the front of packs as this would no doubt have a positive impact on smokers thinking about quitting."

"We know graphic health warnings on cigarettes are a strong motivating factor in encouraging smokers to quit, in fact in the twelve month period following their introduction calls to the Quitline in Victoria jumped by 30 per cent compared with the twelve months prior."

Ms Sharkie also said a move to plain packaging on cigarettes would be a strong signal of Australia's commitment to reducing the harms of tobacco.

"The pack is one of the last bastions of tobacco advertising in Australia and by adopting plain packaging on cigarettes we can close down this insidious method of attracting smokers."

ends

Edwina Pearse,
Media Manager
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811
email:
Edwina.Pearse@cancervic.org.au

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Enough

Been 24 hours since the last one. Chain smoked 15 years, 30-40 sticks a day. Enough for ten lifetimes or ten people! Have to see my kids grow up. Enough man, enough.

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