From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : Benefits of pictorial warnings and challenges
History of the fight against Tobacco
- It is ten years since U.S. Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, but now, the Food and Drug Administration issued a rule that pictorial warnings be carried on cigarette packages and advertisements.
- At present, cigarette packages in the U.S. carry only text warnings and only on one side.
- Canada was the first to introduce pictorial warnings on cigarette packets in 2001.
- By 2018, 118 countries had implemented such warnings in line with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that came into force in 2005.
Importance of messaging
- Dut to their small size and placement, text warnings remain invisible and fail to convey the harmful effects of smoking.
- Gory pictures are very likely to be noticed, leave a lasting impression of the varied risks of smoking.
- They also convey the central message immediately and easily.
- A 2017 study based on modeling found that pictorial warnings could reduce the prevalence of smoking in the U.S by 5% by 2020 and up to 10% by 2065.
- Data from countries that introduced pictorial warnings show how powerful they can be.
- In Canada, there was a 12% relative reduction in smoking prevalence in 6 years after graphic images were made mandatory.
- Australia witnessed more than a 10% drop in prevalence between 2004 and 2008.
- The U.K. saw a 10% relative decline in 2009, just a year after image warnings were introduced.
Challenges to a stricter tobacco law – lessons from the USA
- Stiff opposition from the tobacco industry on the ground that graphic images violate rights protecting free speech.
- The biggest threat that pictorial warnings pose to tobacco companies is in reducing the appeal and consumption of tobacco.
- About 30% of young adults in 28 European countries and Canada reported that graphic images made them less likely to start smoking.
Pictorial warnings can turn the power of packaging — far from brand building, packages with graphic images will become a mobile medium to spread public health messages at no cost to the government.