May 29, 2009

UN Agency Calls For Warning Pictures On Tobacco Products

The World Health Organization announced Friday that cigarette packages should incorporate pictures of the results of smoking tobacco, in addition to the written warnings.

The U.N. agency recommended that governments educate people on the health penalties of smoking.

WHO said the majority of countries still do not have the risks of smoking on packages of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.

"Health warnings on tobacco packages are a simple, cheap and effective strategy that can vastly reduce tobacco use and save lives," said Dr. Ala Alwan, a senior WHO official. "Warnings that include images of the harm that tobacco causes are particularly effective at communicating risk and motivating behavioral changes, such as quitting or reducing tobacco consumption."

Tobacco is the largest cause of avoidable death, killing 5 million smokers globally each year. WHO added that it is the only legal product that kills when used as proposed by the producer.

A cautionary picture on cigarette packs has assisted smokers stop the habit and has prevented others from starting, WHO said. It mentioned campaigns in Brazil, Canada, Singapore and Thailand, and noted that they had "remarkably consistent findings."

Still, only a tenth of the globe calls for warning pictures, WHO said. It stated that governments needed to concentrate on that fault as unawareness still trumps the dangers of smoking.

WHO has taken a progressively stronger position against tobacco in the last few years. It backed a 2003 agreement to manage tobacco use and has advocated a world veto on smoking in indoors.

WHO has also insisted that it will not hire any potential employees who smoke.


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