The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in its Article 11 mandates that countries should enact effective measures to ensure appropriate health warnings on tobacco products packages. It also says that these health warnings should be rotating, large, clear, visible, legible and include pictures or pictograms and occupy at least 50% or more and no less than 30% of the principal display areas. The third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), held in Durban, South Africa in November 2008 also adopted guidelines for implementation of Article 11 which provide detailed information for countries to effectively implement their obligations in relation to Packaging and Labelling of Tobacco Products. In addition, the MPOWER Policy Package promotes effective tobacco health warnings as an intervention under its one of the six policies - “Warn about the dangers of tobacco”.
Comprehensive health warnings about the dangers of tobacco use play a vital role in changing its image, especially among adolescents and young adults. Text and pictorial health warnings are useful to communicate the health risks of tobacco use, provoke more thought about the health risks of tobacco use and have a greater emotional response and generate increased motivation and intention to quit. They are particularly effective in communicating health effects to comparative low literate populations, children and young people.
Call for action
PLACING PICTURE WARNINGS ON ALL TOBACCO PRODUCTS IS AN APPROPRIATE AND HIGHLY COST-EFFECTIVE WAY TO WARN CONSUMERS ABOUT THE RISKS OF TOBACCO AND TO REDUCE TOBACCO CONSUMPTION
Call to policy-makers
Promote your country's accession to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, whose Article 11 guidelines lay out the elements of effective tobacco health warnings.
Use the MPOWER package — specifically, the "W", which stands for "Warn about the dangers of tobacco" — to counter the tobacco epidemic and to help countries meet their commitments under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Require by law that all tobacco products display large picture warnings about the harm caused by tobacco and its many other negative consequences.
Build on the experiences of other countries to craft the most effective warnings and implement them for the greatest possible impact.
Base your decisions on impartial scientific evidence, not on the claims of the tobacco industry. Tobacco companies oppose strong health warnings, particularly those with pictures. The arguments they use against health warnings are false and should not be relied upon.
Call to civil society and nongovernmental organizations
Advocate for picture-based warnings on all tobacco products.
Campaign for and help to develop and implement laws that require picture-based warnings on tobacco products.
Act as a watchdog to monitor tobacco-industry packaging strategies and compliance with statutory warnings.
Evaluate and share information about the effectiveness of picture warnings.
Call to the public
Demand your right to know the truth — the whole truth — about the dangers of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.
Let everyone know that you support picture warnings.