China Will Introduce Larger Graphic Warnings for Cigarette Packs

April 12th, 2012 00:00

From now on cigarette packages will be depicting larger graphic warnings, an action started by the government officials in order to deprive smokers. A recent visit by reporters to the two cigarette stores in Beijing demonstrated that retailers sell tobacco products in both new and old packages.

“Some cigarette manufacturers already placed larger warnings on their cigarette packages, others were still delivering the old ones,” stated a tobacco dealer who refused to be named. The new design replaced English labels with Chinese ones, and requires the Chinese images to be smaller than 4 mm on cigarette cases and no smaller than 6.5 mm on cigarette packages.

Meanwhile, tobacco control activist Wu Yiqun doesn’t believe that these new warnings will have any effect on tobacco control. “Using present graphic labels, it won’t work even if the words are made larger,” Wu said. The warning states: “Smoking is dangerous to your health.”

“The graphic labels do not include any information stating how smoking affects peoples’ health. It should have other statements, which will make people think,” Wu stated. Wu also prompted adding images of diseased parts of the body, which are the most effective. A smoker, who participated in the survey, said that he never looks at the warnings.

China's tobacco industry

“I perfectly know that smoking affects my health, but a lot of people smoke and remain healthy. And one more thing to add, at present we are consuming so many dangerous products and substances, as for instance pesticides, so simply quitting smoking won’t change my health,” he said. 42 countries declare that graphic health warnings should be printed on cigarette packages. However, about 75% of the Chinese people have no idea about the most spread diseases caused by smoking, according to the survey.

“Adding awful pictures would affect the market for expensive smoking products, which has been considered as a gift,” Wu said. According to estimates, in 2011 China’s tobacco industry paid more than US$119 billion in taxes. “So, now you understand why it is so complicated to pass new graphic warnings. The government has to decrease is dependence on cigarette taxes,” Wu said. At present China has more than 350 million smokers that is more than 1/3 of the world’s total.

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