Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology
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EDITORIAL
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 125  

What's the big fuss about larger pictorial warnings on cigarette packs?


Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor, Department of Periodontology, AECS Maaruti Dental College and Research Centre, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication23-Apr-2015

Correspondence Address:
Ashish Sham Nichani
Editor, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, Professor, Department of Periodontology, AECS Maaruti Dental College and Research Centre, Bengaluru, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-124X.155710

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How to cite this article:
Nichani AS. What's the big fuss about larger pictorial warnings on cigarette packs?. J Indian Soc Periodontol 2015;19:125

How to cite this URL:
Nichani AS. What's the big fuss about larger pictorial warnings on cigarette packs?. J Indian Soc Periodontol [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Jul 28];19:125. Available from: https://www.jisponline.com/text.asp?2015/19/2/125/155710










When the Union Health Ministry issued a gazette notification [1] on the October 15, 2014, amending the cigarettes and other tobacco products (packaging and labeling) rules, 2008; the people at large saw it as a small victory in their war against tobacco. The notification made it mandatory for cigarette manufacturing companies to carry a statutory warning against smoking on both sides of a cigarette pack and cover at least 85% of the packaging. Beginning April 1, 2015, every cigarette pack was supposed to carry the warning on both sides with the pictorial depiction of throat/oral cancer and a message in English, Hindi or any Indian language.

However, the proclaimed date has come and gone, and the government has yet again backtracked on the implementation of the pictorial warnings. One of its MPs even asked for research to prove the correlation between cancer and tobacco in India! According to "the cigarette package health warnings: International Status Report 2014" [2] released in Moscow recently, India has slipped to 136 th position in the list of 198 countries that warn smokers about the hazards of smoking through graphic pictures on cigarette packages.

So what is the fuss all about? Don't we all know smoking is injurious to health? Larger pictorial warnings are a highly cost-effective means to increase awareness of the ill effects of tobacco and to reduce its consumption, as recognized by guidelines to implement article 11 (packaging and labeling) adopted under the WHO framework convention on tobacco control. [3] Considering how dismal our literacy rate is in India, pictures can convey a message with far more impact than a message containing only words. A larger size allows for bigger and better pictures, a larger font size, and/or additional information, including information about cessation and passive smoking. Indeed as the old adage goes, "a single picture can convey 1000 words."

The use of pictorial warnings can take on the power of product packaging on its head - from building and establishing a brand name, cigarette packs can become a vehicle for increasing awareness about tobacco's health risks. It has been proven universally that the use of graphic images along with written messages has the potential to significantly make young people think twice from taking up the habit, to motivate existing users to cut the amount of tobacco consumed and even quit smoking and to prevent a relapse in former smokers. Tobacco companies are certainly aware of the damage these larger pictorial warnings can do to their revenues. In a country where nearly a million people die each year because of tobacco consumption, the onus is on our Government to show how determined it is to win the war against tobacco. If a large picture changes the mindset of even a single individual, I would say, there is certainly no harm in increasing the size of the pictorial warnings on cigarette packs.

 
   References Top

1.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules; 2014. Available from: http://www.tobaccolabels.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/ 2014/11/India- 2014-Cigarettes-and-other-Tobacco-Products- Amendment- Rules1.pdf. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 18].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Canadian Cancer Society. Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report, Fourth Edition, September, 2014. Available from: http://www.global.tobaccofreekids.org/files/pdfs/en/WL_status_report_en.pdf. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 18].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
World Health Organization (WHO). Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC, Guidelines for Implementation of Article 11 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (Packaging and labelling of tobacco products); 2008. Available from: http://www.who.int/fctc/protocol/guidelines/adopted/article_11/en/index.html. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 18].  Back to cited text no. 3
    




 

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