Tobacco manufacturers will be forced by law into using images showing the negative health effects of smoking on the back of all tobacco products by 2009, with advertisers expected to begin complying with the new rules by October next year.
A total of 15 graphic images showing the long-term effects of smoking have been chosen by the Department of Health to appear on the packets of cigarettes and tobacco, accompanied by the written warnings that currently appear. The images chosen include: diseased hearts and lungs; decaying teeth; a deceased smoker on a mortuary slab; and others demonstrating other side effects, such as a drooping cigarette for erectile dysfunction and an empty pram to symbolise fertility problems.
The new legislation will aim to reduce the level of smoking across the UK population, particularly among young adults, and will mimic tactics already used in Brazil, Belgium and Canada, where more than 70% of adults have said the warnings are effective in cutting smoking levels. It follows the introduction of the smoking ban in pubs and restaurants in England on July 1.
A spokesman for the British Medical Council said: "Placing graphic images on cigarette packaging showing the horrible ways in which smoking can damage your health will undoubtedly encourage some people to give up smoking and significantly reduce their risk of dying prematurely from heart disease, cancer and other killer diseases."
However smokers' lobbying group Forest has accused the government of victimising and bullying smokers into quitting, claiming the same tactics would not be used in anti-drinking or obesity legislation.
Neil Rafferty, spokesman for Forest, said: "You could construct exactly the same argument for placing graphic images on bottles of alcohol but because most people like to drink alcohol the government doesn't want to offend the majority. The government are bullying smokers because they can get away with it."
This article was first published on brandrepublic.com