WHO calls for pictorial warnings on tobacco products

May 29th, 2009 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) The World Health Organization (WHO) Friday urged 12 Southeast Asian countries, including India, to focus on “tobacco health warnings” that combines text with pictures in order to send strong warning signals against use of the product.
“Tobacco is the only legally available product that kills people, and 1.2 million people die from tobacco use in our region annually,” Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO Regional Director for Southeast Asia, said.

“An effective tobacco control strategy is, therefore, not just a programmatic necessity but also a moral imperative,” he said.

With May 31 being observed as World No Tobacco Day, he said: “Health warnings on tobacco product packages are critical to any effective tobacco control strategy.”

After many delays, India would be finally putting out pictorial warnings on tobacco products from May 31.

Stressing on the need to initiate action to implement Article 11 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on World No Tobacco Day, WHO said that the article mandates countries to use appropriate health warnings on tobacco product packages.

“The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) obligates its parties to ensure that tobacco products carry health warnings describing their harmful effects,” Plianbangchang said.

Apart from India, the other countries are Bangladesh, East Timor, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Maldives, Indonesia, Bhutan, Bangladesh and South Korea.

Plianbangchang said that “health warnings on tobacco packages that combine text and pictures are one of the most cost-effective ways to increase public awareness about the serious health risks of tobacco.”

According to WHO, six member states of the region - Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Thailand and Timor - have laws mandating specific health warnings.

While Bangladesh has six different types of text warnings covering 30 percent surface area of all smoking tobacco products, India is planning to implement three different types of graphic warnings covering 40 percent of the front of all tobacco product packages.

Maldives has mandated five different types of textual warnings covering 30 percent surface of the cigarette package, the statement said.

Thailand has implemented nine different types of pictorial health warnings on 50 percent surface area of cigarette packages.

Indonesia has one and Timor has five textual warnings on all cigarette packets, the statement said.

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