Smokers ‘heed warnings’

  • Nation
  • Friday, 21 Feb 2003

PETALING JAYA: A study conducted by the Canadian Cancer Society shows that graphic and explicit warnings on cigarette boxes are effective in discouraging smoking. 

The 2001 study entitled Evaluation of New Warnings on Cigarette Packages available on found that 90% of smokers noticed the colour and graphic warnings launched in Canada that year.  

The warnings, which covered the top half of the front and back of the package, replaced black and white text-based messages covering only about 35% of the boxes. 

The survey found that among those who noticed the warnings, 43% were more concerned about the health effects of smoking.  

It also found that 44% of smokers said the new warnings increased their motivation to quit smoking, and of those who attempted to quit, 38% said the warnings were a factor in motivating them. 

The national survey of 2,014 Canadians was funded by the Institute of Cancer Research of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. 

“On one or more occasions, 21% of smokers have been tempted to have a cigarette but decided not to because of the new warnings,” it said.  

Last week, major cigarette companies British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, rejected the position of more than 180 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to have pictorial warnings on cigarette boxes, saying there was no evidence these warnings were effective. 

An earlier report in The Star had quoted Framework Convention Alliance steering committee member Mary Assunta as saying pictorial warnings were one of the clauses the NGOs wanted to see inserted in the first international treaty on tobacco control. 

The treaty - known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control - is being negotiated by 192 countries for the final time in Geneva under the auspices of the World Health Organisation. 

Assunta said in an interview recently that Brazil also used pictorial warnings, while Singapore was on its way towards implementing it.  

There are also calls to do the same in America, Australia and South Africa.  

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