Originally Posted by ojoj
Smokers dont look at the packs and I dont believe it will make any difference to anyone
I don't think it'll make any difference either. I know that I didn't take any notice of the warnings on the cigarette packs when I was a smoker.
The Big Question: Do ever more gruesome warnings really put people off smoking?
Published: 30 August 2007
Why are we asking this question now?
The Government had decided to make it compulsory for cigarette manufacturers to include graphic pictures of diseased lungs, hearts and other organs on all tobacco products sold in Britain by the end of 2009. After consulting the public and carrying out market research, the Department of Health has chosen 15 hard-hitting images that will be used to accompany stark warnings about lung cancer and heart disease. In 2004, the Government promised to introduce such images on cigarette packets in a White Paper and yesterday it published details of the new rules. It is expected that cigarette packs without the new warnings will not be allowed on sale after 30 September 2008. Other tobacco products will be included in the new regulations from 30 September 2009.
Why is the Government introducing this policy?
Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, says: "Picture warnings are the next vital step in reducing the number of people who smoke. We are committed to continuing to drive down smoking rates in the UK as smoking remains the number one cause of ill health and early death. We have already made a lot of progress with stark written warnings on cigarette packs. Today's announcement, together with the introduction of the smoke-free law last month and our plans to raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products will potentially save thousands of lives and others will be spared the misery of watching family and friends die prematurely from smoke-related illnesses."
Is there any hard evidence that gruesome picture warnings work?
A study published in the British Medical Journal this month found that the bigger and more graphic the warnings are on a cigarette packet, the more effective the health message becomes. It concluded: "Smokers are not fully informed about the risks of smoking. Warnings that are graphic, larger and more comprehensive in content are more effective in communicating the health risks of smoking." Furthermore, it found that smokers who perceive a greater health risk from smoking are more likely to want to quit, and to quit successfully. Professor Robert West of Cancer Research UK estimated that between 5,000 and 10,000 people would stop smoking as a result of the new adverts. This would translate into saving around 2,500 lives a year, he added.
Do any other countries use graphic images on their packets?
In Europe, Britain will lead the way in one respect. Belgium has already adopted picture warnings but only on cigarettes. Romania and Finland, meanwhile, plan to implement similar picture warnings on cigarettes next year. Canada was the first country to use graphic images to reinforce the written warnings. Several other countries, notably Australia, Brazil and Thailand, have also followed Canada's lead.
But do smokers take any notice of health warnings?
Scientists compared the impact of the different types of health warnings on cigarette packets in four countries, Britain, the United States, Canada, and Australia. Although virtually every country in the world includes health warnings on cigarette packets, the size, number and way the information is presented differs significantly from one to the other. In looking in detail at just four countries, the researchers found that the stronger the warning, the more knowledgeable the smokers were about the health risks of their habit.
If the evidence is so clear-cut, why do people object?
It comes down to a person's right to choose when it comes to personal risk. The pro-smoking lobby argue that it is illogical for the Government to spend so much time and effort on anti-smoking "propaganda" when other activities in life are almost as dangerous. Neil Rafferty, a spokesman for Forest, the smokers' lobby group, described the latest effort of the Government as another example of how smokers are being victimised.
"You could construct exactly t he same argument for placing graphic images on bottles of alcohol, but because most people like to drink alcohol, the government doesn't want to offend the majority. The Government are bullying smokers simply because they can get away with it," Mr Rafferty said.
Are fewer people smoking now because of health warnings?
It's difficult to say if it has a direct impact, but in general smoking is in decline although there continues to be a significant number of young people who take it up – especially teenage girls who are on average twice as likely as boys to start the habit. According to Government statistics, in 2006 some 16 per cent of 15-year-old boys smoked regularly compared with 24 per cent of 15-year-old girls. One in a hundred 11-year-olds is thought to smoke regularly, and one in five 15-year-olds has taken up the habit. Smoking has the highest prevalence among the 20-24 age group, with 34 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women of this age smoking regularly.
Can smokers do anything about the new warnings?
They may want to buy the sort of cardboard cigarette cases on sale in France, which conveniently hide the messages when carrying a cigarette packet. In Spain you can buy a range of stickers with remarks like "living is fatal" and "driving may endanger your health". In Britain, smokers can buy stickers saying "buy your own fags" and "smoking is cool".
Why does the Government persecute smokers in this way?
The simple (non conspiratorial) answer is that smoking is the largest known preventable cause of cancer, which accounts for 30 per cent of all cancer deaths – some 400,000 excess deaths in Britain each year. Smoking is known to increase the risk of lethal cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx, oesophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas. Colon cancer has also recently been added to that long list. In addition, smoking affects the chances of developing heart disease, one of the biggest of all killers. Several studies found that quitting smoking, even in a regular, long-term smoker, significantly reduces the risk of developing these diseases. For instance, within five years of quitting, the risk among former smokers of developing lung cancer falls to half of that for current smokers. After 10 to 15 years, the risk becomes the same as for non-smokers.
Should we use graphic pictures to stop people smoking?
* Cigarettes are the biggest single cause of preventable deaths,and anything that stops people smoking is good
* Young people, especially teenage girls, think smoking is cool, and horrible pictures may persuade them it is not
* Studies show that the bigger and more graphic the images, the more knowledgeable are the smokers of the health risks they run
* People have a right to choose their one level of personal risk without vicious government propaganda
* The relatives of people who have died of smoking may be offended by images used in this way
* If smoking really is so dangerous and anti-social, why not make it illegal? At least that would be more honest than using pictures