The government wants to shock smokers into quitting by putting graphic pictures of the damage caused by smoking on cigarette packs.
From Wednesday picture warnings will begin replacing the written warnings currently on packets in a bid to improve on the 1.9 million fewer smokers seen since 1982.
The new images show rotting teeth and lungs, throat cancer and a ‘flaccid cigarette’ – the “grim reality” of the effects smoking can have on health, as chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson says.
“These new stark picture warnings emphasise the harsh health realities of continuing to smoke. I hope they will make many more think hard about giving up, and get the help they need to stop smoking for good.”
Britain is not the first country to use graphic warnings: Canada introduced them in 2001 and saw 31 per cent of ex-smokers claiming the pictures had motivated them to quit.
Anti-smoking campaigners have welcomed the images, which come into force from October 1st. Action on Smoking and Health’s (Ash) director Deborah Arnott backed existing evidence suggesting the images make smokers quit.
And she called on the government to legislate to require the removal of pack branding to maximise their impact, as research shows this has the greatest impact.
Cancer Research UK’s head of tobacco control, Elspeth Lee, said her organisation would back an amendment to current EU legislation allowing picture warnings to be placed on the front as well as the back of packs, as in Australia and New Zealand.
“The harsh reality is that half of all long term smokers will die from this deadly addiction,” she said.
“Attractive branding has no place in selling these products.”
All cigarette packs will carry the images by September 30th 2009, the last date of compliance.