New graphic health warnings to help people quit smoking

The Minister for Health Dr James Reilly and the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan today, Thursday 31st January 2013, reminded people that from tomorrow (Friday February 1st 2013) cigarette packaging placed on the Irish market will have to display graphic photographs with a strong health warning. These images depict the negative health impacts associated with smoking.

Research and experience in other countries has shown that health warnings combined with coloured photographs can be an effective means of discouraging smoking and informing people about the health risks related to smoking.

According to the World Health Organisation, in Canada the introduction of photo images on cigarette packs resulted in a fourfold increase in smoker’s intentions to quit (20% before 87% after). Also according to the WHO, in Brazil 56% of people changed their opinion about the health consequences of smoking after the introduction of the new packaging.

Attending a press launch publicising the new images, Dr James Reilly, the Minister for Health said he hoped the introduction of the graphic photo images will give people a clearer understanding of the great dangers of smoking. “Half, or 1 in 2, of all long-term smokers will die from smoking related diseases. This is a stark statistic. There is no doubt that if tobacco were discovered today, knowing what we know about its lethal effects, it would not be a legal product.”

“I am committed to reducing the number of young people starting to smoke and those current smokers.” the Minister said. “If, by introducing these graphic images on cigarette packs, some people are shocked into considering how smoking impacts on them and their families then the warnings will have achieved their objective.”

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health added “We should never lose sight of the detrimental impact that smoking has on our society. It remains the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland, killing over 5,200 people a year.”

The introduction of these warnings builds on other legislative measures taken to date in relation to tobacco including the ban in 2009 of the display and advertising of tobacco products in retail units. It is anticipated that these particular measures will have a positive impact on reducing the numbers of young people starting to smoke.

Note to Editors:

There are 14 images which Ireland selected from the library of images developed by the European Commission. All tobacco products placed on the market on or after 1 February 2013 must comply with the new regulations. Any tobacco products placed on the market prior to 1 February 2013 can continue to be sold or offered for sale until 1 February 2014. This facilitates the sale of more “slow moving” tobacco products.

A copy of the Statutory Instruments which include the images that will be used are available on the website of the Department (www.doh.ie) or can be accessed via the attached links:

SI0656 www.dohc.ie/legislation/statutory_instruments/pdf/si20110656.pdf?direct=1

A selection of images are available on the Department of Health's Flickr page:

www.flickr.com/photos/doh-ireland/

ENDS