Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Belgium ups the ante with cig warnings

Cigarette packs sold in Belgium will soon have vivid pictures of the harm that smoking does, along with text warnings.

The pictures are not for the faint-hearted. One shows a man with a swollen-red tumour protruding from his neck. "Smoking can lead to a slow and painful death," reads the advice underneath. Another shows a smoker in a prison cell clutching bars made of cigarettes. The moral of the story? "Smoking is addictive. Don't start." Other pictures the Belgian government plans to rotate over the next three years show toothless gums, blackened lungs and open-heart surgery.

Canada already uses pictorial warnings along with text. Other European countries are expected to follow suit.

EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou, introducing the new policy, said: "Pictorial warnings are a cost effective public health measure, which not only serve as a prominent source of health information, but are also likely to reduce tobacco use in the population." More.

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