Get involved!
This year’s theme for World Tobacco Day, which takes place annually on 31 May, is "Tobacco Health Warnings". The UICC is calling on its members to mobilize for this day and help increase tobacco control around the world. The WHO has already made a variety of resources available online for download to help promote the initiative, including: posters, banners, brochures, flyers, press materials and print ads. 

Tobacco health warnings appear on packs of cigarettes and are among the strongest defenses against the global epidemic of tobacco. Warnings that contain both pictures and words are considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most effective at convincing people to quit. Most people are unaware of the extent of the harm that tobacco causes, even if they have some idea that it is a health risk.

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death. More than five million people die from the effects of tobacco every year — more than from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. It is the only legal consumer product that kills when used exactly as the manufacturer intends. Up to half of all smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease. Second-hand smoke harms everyone who is exposed to it.

Tobacco companies spend tens of millions of dollars every year turning new users into addicts and keeping current users from quitting. Through advertising and promotional campaigns, including the use of carefully crafted package designs, the tobacco industry continues to divert attention from the deadly effects of its products. More and more countries are fighting back by requiring that tobacco packages graphically show the dangers of tobacco.

In response to this threat and the demand from countries for action, the World No Tobacco Day 2009 campaign focuses on the following main message:
Health warnings on tobacco packages that combine text and pictures are one of the most cost-effective ways to increase public awareness of the serious health risks of tobacco use and to reduce tobacco consumption.

It is a proven fact that warnings on packaging are an inexpensive and powerful way to show the truth about tobacco consumption. Warnings that include images of the harm that tobacco causes are particularly effective at communicating risk and motivating behavioural changes, such as quitting or reducing tobacco consumption. Picture warnings convey a clear and immediate message, even to people who cannot read. They reduce the overall attractiveness of tobacco packages — an important function for a product whose new users are typically young and image- and brand-conscious. But despite this fact, 9 out of 10 people live in countries that do not require warnings with pictures on tobacco packages.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Warning people about its true risks can go a long way towards reducing tobacco addiction. Requiring warnings on tobacco packages is a simple, cheap and effective strategy that can vastly reduce tobacco use and save lives. Now is the time to act.

UICC supports World No Tobacco Day and encourages its members take an active role in global tobacco control through the WHO initiative, the UICC ‘I love my smoke-free childhood’ campaign and Globalink.


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