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EU Unveils Grisly Photo Warnings for Cigarettes

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The European Union unveiled grisly photos of rotten lungs, throat tumors and decayed teeth on Friday, which it hopes will be used on cigarette packets to persuade smokers to quit and convince children never to start.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, wants national governments to adopt the images and use them to ram home the written warnings that already adorn Europe’s cigarette packets.Similar photos are already used in Canada and Brazil.”It’s obvious that advertising pays, otherwise people wouldn’t advertise — so now we’re getting on that bandwagon,” Europe’s health chief David Byrne told a news conference.The 42-picture library includes disturbing photos of disease and death but also humorous and abstract images — a wrinkled apple accompanies a warning about skin aging, while a bent cigarette illustrates a warning about impotence.A simultaneously released report by independent tobacco experts said smoking killed more than 650,000 Europeans a year and cost EU states some 100 billion euros ($126 billion).EU states should establish dedicated anti-smoking agencies, and the EU should create a tobacco regulator, it said.The report urged European countries to immediately raise anti-smoking budgets by 1-3 euros per person, and continue to hike cigarette prices through higher taxes.Tobacco should be removed from consumer price indices because some countries worried tax rises would lift inflation figures, the report said.”People need to be shocked out of their complacency about tobacco,” Byrne said. “The true face of smoking is disease, death and horror — not the glamour and sophistication the pushers in the tobacco industry try to portray.”Byrne, the Commission’s outgoing health and consumer protection commissioner, said Ireland and Belgium had already shown interest in passing national laws adopting the graphic warnings, and he hoped some countries would begin next year.British smokers’ lobby group Forest said the warnings were gratuitously offensive and singled out smokers, since no similar schemes applied for alcohol or fatty foods.”Smokers are well aware of the health risks of smoking. There’s no need to rub their noses in it,” said Forest Director Simon Clark. “All that is needed is a simple written warning.”Byrne, an Irishman, said he would like to see other countries follow the example of Ireland, which earlier this year became the first country to ban smoking in all public buildings, including bars and restaurants. Norway has since followed suit.But he said momentum for such bans needed to build in countries rather than being imposed by the Commission. “I would be concerned that it could be characterized as being a diktat from Brussels,” Byrne said. ($1=.7916 Euro) (Source: Reuters, Oct 2004)

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Posted On: 26 October, 2004
Modified On: 5 December, 2013


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