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Pakistan to Introduce Large, Graphic Warnings on Tobacco Products

February 19, 2015


Pakistan has announced that it will require large, graphic health warnings on all tobacco products, better informing its citizens about the deadly consequences of tobacco use.

Effective March 30, tobacco products in Pakistan must bear warning labels covering 85 percent of tobacco packaging.

With this bold move for public health, Pakistan joins India, Nepal and Thailand as the fourth country to introduce warning labels of at least 85 percent, signaling a strong commitment to reducing the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

According to research, a smoker looks at his cigarette pack 7,000 times per year, so we are hoping that a bigger pictorial warning will have a greater impact in deterring new smokers and discouraging chronic ones,” Pakistan’s Health Minister, Saira Afzal, told The News International.

Studies around the world show that large, graphic warnings are most effective at informing consumers about the health risks of tobacco use. Such warnings can motivate smokers to quit, discourage nonsmokers from starting, and keep ex-smokers from starting again.

According to a report issued by the Canadian Cancer Society in October, at least 77 countries and territories have now finalized pictorial warnings – up from just one country, Canada, in 2001.

Pakistan’s new policy marks a significant step for the country in fulfilling its obligations under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s first international public health treaty. The treaty recommends graphic warning labels as an effective measure to curb tobacco use, which kills some 110,000 people each year in Pakistan.

We applaud Pakistan for taking a strong stand for public health and requiring this life-saving health measure. Without urgent action by governments, tobacco will kill one billion people worldwide this century.