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Cancer Society Warns Of Tobacco Industry Tricks

Media release

EMBARGOED 10AM THURSDAY NOVEMBER 2006

Cancer Society Warns Of Tobacco Industry
Tricks To Foil New Warnings

Moves to introduce new graphic health warnings on cigarettes have been welcomed by the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

But they warn that the tobacco industry has used “a bag of tricks” to undermine them in Australia and other countries and will do the same here.

“Why wouldn’t they? Large graphic health warnings work. They’re an important way of informing smokers about the health effects of smoking, strongly associated with the intention to quit,” said Belinda Hughes, Tobacco control advisor for the Cancer Society.

“Calls to the Quitline in Australia increased by 171% when they were introduced in Australia, showing how effective the health warnings can be in getting people to quit.”

But, she says, tobacco companies also know that the new health warnings are an effective way to help get people to quit smoking.

“And they know that the new warnings undermine the marketing potential of cigarette packaging. No wonder they have gone to such lengths to undermine the introduction of the new warnings in countries like Australia,” Ms Hughes says.

Amongst the bag of tricks used by tobacco companies have been:
• the introduction of sleeves and stickers to cover the warnings;
• the introduction of tins and other holders to encourage people to transfer their cigarettes out of the packages;
• the introduction of peel-off labels;
• stockpiling of packages with old warnings to slow the introduction of the new warnings; and,
• the introduction of ‘split packs’ which divide a pack of 20 into two slimmer packs of 13 and seven cigarettes, incorporated under one flip-top lid. The split pack connects on one edge with a perforated seam, displays only the brand name on the pack of 13 where the larger graphic would normally be.

“These ploys show the contempt with which the tobacco industry treats smokers. Large graphic health warnings work, there is no doubt about it, and tobacco industry efforts to undermine them illustrate how little they care about actually informing smokers about the health effects of their smoking.” Ms Hughes says.

“We’re delighted the Ministry of Health recognises the importance of these graphic pictorial health warnings released today. Now we all have to work together to ensure they are able to do their job effectively, not watered down by the unethical actions of the tobacco industry.”

Ends

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