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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Europe launches shock tobacco ads
EU ad showing man being resuscitated
The ads aim to shock
The European Commission has launched a series of hard-hitting images to be used to show the damage smoking can do to people's health.

The graphic images are part of a 72m euro campaign against smoking.

The 42 images show pictures including rotten lungs and a man with a large tumour on his throat.

Individual countries can decide whether or not to include the images on cigarette packs. The UK Department of Health has said it will consult over introducing them.

The European Commission is also calling on member states to implement long-term measures, such as effective regulators, to tackle smoking levels.

Its experts estimate the annual cost of tobacco related disease in the EU at 100 billion euros a year.

The Commission says picture warnings are set to be introduced in a number of countries next year, including Ireland and Belgium.

'Focus groups'

Launching the campaign, David Byrne, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said: "People need to be shocked out of their complacency about tobacco. I make no apology for some of the pictures we are using.

EU ad - harm to babies
The ads highlight the harm smoking can do to babies in the womb

"The true face of smoking is disease, death and horror - not the glamour and sophistication the pushers in the tobacco industry try to portray.

"The EU must hammer home this message to young people via its media campaign and to smokers via their cigarette packs.

The large black and white health written warnings which are currently seen on cigarette packs across Europe were introduced by the EU's Tobacco Products Directive.

That legislation directed the Commission to help EU countries to introduce picture warnings.

The database of images has been created by a communications agency and tested on focus groups across the 25 EU Member States.

Smokers are well aware of the health risks of smoking. There's no need to rub their noses in it
Simon Clark, Forest,
The EU says it has also studied trends in Canada, which introduced picture warnings several years ago. Experts there suggest they can help reduce smoking.


A spokeswoman for the Department of Health told BBC News Online: "We have already announced that we are planning on consulting on the use of images on cigarette packets.

"Once the EU Commission has approved the images, we will start the consultation process to establish whether these should appear on cigarette packets in this country and, if so, which would be most appropriate."

Impotence ad
Some ads warn of lesser-known side effects

Dr. Charmaine Griffiths, spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation said: "We welcome any move that makes smokers stop and consider the damage they are doing to their health.

"Images such as the ones to be featured on cigarette packs in some EU countries can be highly effective weapons in the war against smoking.

"It is important to remember, however, that whilst shocking images can attract attention, they will have most impact when backed up with support for the smoker.

"The anti-smoking charity ASH called for pictorial health warnings to be mandatory on all tobacco products.

Deborah Arnott, director of ASH, said: "Whilst the UK government has made considerable progress in tobacco control in recent years it must increase spending to bring smoking rates down further and protect the public from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke."

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' rights group Forest, said: "Smokers are well aware of the health risks of smoking. There's no need to rub their noses in it.

"All that is needed is a simple written warning advising people about the possible health risks of smoking. Anything else is gratuitously offensive and yet another example of smokers being singled out for special attention."

He added: "What about fatty foods, dairy products or alcohol? If they're going to target tobacco, there should be written and graphic health warnings on other products as well."

See the images officials hope will shock smokers

Shock images to target smokers
14 Feb 04  |  Health

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