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New set of graphic health warnings on cigarettes to hit the shelves, as data shows confronting images increase Quitline calls

Wednesday 28 February, 2007

Calls to the Quitline have jumped by 30 per cent since new graphic health warnings were introduced on cigarette packs in Australia one year ago.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the introduction of graphic health warnings in Australia - and also the end of the transition period when both sets of health warnings could be supplied.

As of March 1 only the second set of graphic health warnings will be supplied, including confronting images of smoking-caused stroke, lung cancer, blindness and heart disease. The second set of warnings also outlines the effect of smoking on unborn babies and the toxicity of tobacco smoke.

In the twelve month period following March 1 2006, the Quitline in Victoria received over 28, 000 calls from people interested in quitting smoking. This was a spike from just under 22, 000 in the twelve months prior.

Executive Director of Quit Victoria, Mr Todd Harper said the 30 per cent increase was particularly impressive given the tobacco industry appeared to try to delay the introduction of graphic health warnings for as long as possible.

"It took more than four months after the March 1 deadline before the graphic warnings became a prominent fixture on tobacco packaging in Australia. We can only speculate on how many more people would have tried to quit smoking if they had been exposed to the graphic images earlier."

"Graphic health warnings on cigarettes are a strong motivating factor in encouraging smokers to quit, so although the delay was tremendously disappointing, it was certainly no surprise the tobacco industry tried to prevent them appearing for so long."

Mr Harper said the one-year anniversary of graphic health warnings on cigarettes provided the perfect opportunity to evaluate their effectiveness or identify how they could be improved.

"Recent studies have illustrated how vital it is to regularly revise and update the warnings on cigarette packages."

"In Australia we have the capacity to rotate our new graphic health warnings but it is also important to update and revise them on a regular basis to ensure smokers are informed about the devastating consequences of tobacco use."

"The introduction of graphic health warnings on cigarettes is 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 the cigarette packaging."

 

ends

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

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