London, Aug. 4 (Reuters): Cigarette packs in Europe could soon carry graphic images showing the harmful effects of tobacco to remind smokers of how they are damaging their health, experts said today.
A poll commissioned by the European Commission to test the effectiveness of warnings on cigarette packs revealed that they were being ignored by many smokers.
So regularly updated images of diseased organs, similar to the graphic pictures used on cigarette packs in Canada, may now accompany the health warnings.
“The EC is now going through the process of deciding which pictures will be available and what form they will take,” said Professor Gerard Hastings, of the Cancer Research UK Centre for Tobacco Control Research at the University of Strathclyde.
He added that they could be on packs in about 18 months.
The results of the survey, conducted by Cancer Research UK in seven European countries and released at the 12th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Finland, showed the small warnings that have been on cigarette packets for many years were no longer effective.
Even the bigger messages were not having an impact.
Hastings said in an interview that cigarette companies would never use the same advertisement for 20 years to encourage people to smoke, and the same should apply to health warnings. “There is very much a need with health warnings to innovate and keep people’s interest,” he added.
According to the survey, many smokers believe the old warnings were just a “get out” clause for the government or tobacco industry. Smokers also thought the government was tied to tobacco tax revenue but felt a duty to murmur health warning.
Hastings said he hopes the images and warnings will help to stigmatise tobacco and remind people that there is no other product on the market that can kill people if they use it as directed by the manufacturer.