Evidence brief - How large pictorial health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products affect knowledge and behaviour



Evidence shows that combined written and graphic health messages on the packaging of tobacco products are more effective than text-only warnings. Indeed, images have been shown to increase the awareness of the health risks related to tobacco consumption. Article 11 of the WHO FCTC requires the adoption of health warnings on packages and the guidelines on implementation of this article recommend the adoption of pictorial health warnings. Studies have shown that pictorial health warnings increase quit attempts and decrease smoking uptake. Pictorial health warnings, including graphic, fear-arousing information, have proven to be particularly effective. They also have public support; half of the EU citizens recognized the effectiveness of such measures in 2008. Contrary to what tobacco companies are claiming, pictorial health warnings are fast and cheap to implement, and they do not increase illicit trade. These measures are in compliance with international trade law and intellectual property law.