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ASH supports biggest boldest picture warnings

ASH supports biggest boldest picture warnings

Leading smokefree group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) supports Minister Damien O’Conner’s efforts to introduce picture warnings in New Zealand.

Becky Freeman ASH Director says, “We are pleased that the minister’s office has finally released documents that will eventually lead to the introduction of picture warnings in New Zealand.”

ASH supports New Zealand and international research that show that the elements that had the most impact were clear, bright pictures and bold, simple warning messages supported by informative (yet brief) additional text.

“Tobacco industry is trying hard to prevent the introduction of picture warnings, because they know that it works, and will reduce their profits.

“Protection of corporate trademarks and business rights must not be given priority over the protection of human health and life,” says Ms Freeman.
For a very long time the tobacco industry has disguised tobacco by associating it with gorgeous models with looks that kill, but the blatant truth is tobacco kills.
“People might initially feel fear and disgust but research done in Canada has found that 47.4 percent of adult smokers who had seen and read Canadian pictorial warnings had attempted to quit smoking or had reduced their cigarette consumption,” says Ms Freeman.

Ms Freeman says that in an ideal setting there would be no tobacco branding, but ASH will support the biggest and the boldest picture warnings. A fair alternative to no branding would be 60 percent of the front and 90 percent at the back.

There is a reason why tobacco companies have long associated smoking with images of gorgeous people and slogans like “Enjoy a cooler kind of mild,” “Where a man belongs,” or “You've Come a Long Way, Baby”.

Says Ms Freeman, “A picture is worth a thousand words. The tobacco industry has long known this and promoted its deadly products accordingly.

“I believe it is high time we counter the industry’s lies with graphic truths.”


Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)

9 May 2006


Are picture warnings currently required in New Zealand?
- No. But the Ministry is currently undertaking consultations to improve the health warnings on cigarettes.
- Now is a perfect opportunity to adopt picture warnings. In June 2003 New Zealand signed the FCTC and a requirement is that the size of health warnings must be increased to a minimum of 30% of the tobacco package (and preferably at least 50%) within three years of signing (Article 11).

Why should New Zealand introduce picture warnings?
Picture warnings get results. 47.4% of adult smokers who had seen and read graphic Canadian cigarette warnings had attempted to quit smoking or had reduced their cigarette consumption as a result of the warnings. 31% of former smokers said that graphic warning labels had influenced them to quit.

Picture warnings are more effective than text warnings. New entirely text labels in the UK did increase thoughts about quitting and attempts to quit. However, graphic warnings resulted in higher numbers of people thinking about quitting or actually quitting even though the graphic warnings were two years old.ix In another study, pictures with warning messages were, on average, approximately 60 times more encouraging to stop/prevent initiation of smoking than purely written messages.

Picture warnings can increase the effectiveness of anti-smoking campaigns. As picture warnings are visual, they can be linked to visual media, such as posters and television commercials, and thereby increase the effectiveness of anti-smoking

Warnings on packages have the potential to limit the effect of Tobacco packaging is a component of advertising and promotion of tobacco and there is overwhelming evidence that advertising causes increases in tobacco consumption.

Big warnings with strong health warnings are more effective than small warnings. Small warning labels that have only simple statements about the health risks of smoking, such as those currently present on New Zealand tobacco products, have limited effectiveness.

Tobacco packages are the ideal place for warnings about smoking. Health warnings on tobacco packages communicate directly with who we want to protect from smoking-related illness: smokers. Smokers will see the message frequently and at the right time i.e. when buying the packages and when smoking.

Warning labels on tobacco packaging are the primary source of health information about tobacco viii and can motivate quitting.

New Zealand Research supports this: Research undertaken by Research undertaken by BRC Marketing and Social Research in New Zealand has shown that the elements that had the most impact were clear, bright pictures and bold, simple warning messages supported by informative (yet brief) additional text.

What is the global trend?
Canada, Brazil, Poland, Singapore, Thailand and Australia have legislation specifying larger, prominent messages and pictorial images.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Recommendations
ASH supports picture warnings in cigarette packets in New Zealand. The bigger the picture warnings the better.

ASH NZ has a chart that indicates the importance of bigger, better picture warnings. Canada has one of the largest picture warnings, resulting in 84% of smokers noticing the information about the dangers of smoking. On the other hand, only 47% of American smokers noticed the text warnings in American Cigarette packets.

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