2009: Tobacco health warnings

The key message of World No Tobacco Day (WTND) 2009 is that health warnings on tobacco packages that combine text and pictures are one of the most cost-effective ways to increase public awareness of the serious health risks of tobacco use and to reduce consumption.

Despite evidence of this, 9 out of 10 people worldwide live in countries that do not require warnings with pictures on tobacco packages.

Tobacco companies spend tens of millions of dollars every year turning new users into addicts and keeping current users from quitting. Through advertising and promotional campaigns, including the use of carefully crafted package designs, the tobacco industry continues to divert attention from the deadly effects of its products.

Warnings work

More and more countries are requiring that packages graphically show the dangers of tobacco. Warnings on packaging have been proved to be an inexpensive and powerful way to show the truth about tobacco consumption.

Pictorial warnings convey a clear and immediate message, even to people who cannot read. They reduce the overall attractiveness of tobacco packages: important for a product whose new users are typically young and image and brand conscious.