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Countdown to graphic pictorial warnings

Countdown to graphic pictorial warnings

Tuesday, 27 February 2007,

Countdown to graphic pictorial warnings on cigarette packets begins

The tobacco industry has exactly 12 months to meet new regulations for pictorial warnings on cigarette packets, Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor says.

The Government yesterday approved regulations providing for large pictorial warnings on tobacco products. The industry has 12 months to get its processes in place, with the new warnings to replace the current text warnings by February 28 next year.

The regulations will see 30 per cent of the front and 90 per cent of the back of cigarette packets covered in images including gangrenous toes, rotting teeth and gums, diseased lungs and smoking-damaged hearts.

The graphic warnings complement initiatives such as New Zealand's comprehensive smokefree legislation, and will help prevent some of the around 5000 smoking-related deaths each year, Mr O'Connor said.

"I am confident these new pictorial warnings will help smokers break this deadly habit and will prove exceptionally off-putting for any would-be smokers.

"We know that more and more people are beginning to realise the dangers of smoking. Tobacco consumption has reduced by a third in the last ten years. Support for smokefree workplaces and homes is also increasing, with latest research showing that 90 per cent of people support the right to live and work in a smokefree environment."

The images will be accompanied by the Quitline logo, freephone number and other information about quitting smoking. Countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada and Singapore use pictorial warnings.

Background Information -

* Seven pictorial warnings will appear on cigarette packets in both English and te reo Maori in year one, with a further seven warnings in year two and will then be rotated each year thereafter.

* Health warnings will be placed on cigars, bidis, cigarillos, loose tobacco and other forms of tobacco products

* The current list of ingredients on cigarette packets (i.e levels of tar and nicotine) will be replaced with a qualitative message about the harmful chemicals contained in tobacco smoke.

* Text information on health warnings will appear in black and yellow. This follows research undertaken by Research New Zealand with various focus groups that clearly showed this colour combination has the greatest impact.

• Once the new labelling requirements come into force, retailers will have a maximum of six months to sell tobacco packaging with the old warnings.


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