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Graphic warnings on cigarettes now compulsory

29 August 2008

Graphic warnings on cigarettes now compulsory

It is now compulsory for all tobacco products to show graphic health warnings, Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor said today.

New regulations introduced in February require graphic images including gangrenous toes, diseased lungs, smoking damaged hearts and rotting teeth and gums to appear on all tobacco products.

Mr O’Connor said monitoring of the new regulations shows a high level of compliance so far. By mid August, 92 percent of tobacco products on display carried the graphic warnings.

“Retailers have had a six month transition period as well as a one year window for manufacturers to make the necessary changes. My expectation is that retailers will fully comply with their obligations to only sell tobacco products with the new warnings,” said Mr O’Connor.

The regulations require 30 percent of the front and 90 percent of the back of cigarette packs to have graphic warnings. Packaging is also required to carry the Quitline logo, freephone number and other information about quitting.

The Quit Group reports that before pictorial warnings, 7-10 percent of callers to Quitline said they got the number from cigarette packs. By July, that proportion had risen to 30 percent.

“Smoking kills around 13 New Zealanders every day, so every effort we make to reduce the number of people smoking, and discourage people from starting
is vital.

“The new graphic warnings complement the Labour-led government’s comprehensive tobacco control programme, and are designed to help prevent some of the 5,000 smoking related deaths each year,” said Mr O’Connor.

Survey results from the 2006/07 New Zealand Health survey released in May this year indicate that New Zealand’s adult smoking rate is below 20 percent for the first time since data recording began.

“All the evidence shows that the graphic warnings on packets and associated television advertisements are having a positive impact,” said Mr O’Connor.

ENDS

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