Brazil to Scare Smokers with Pictures on Packs
SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - Brazil will become this week the second country in the world to attach anti-smoking pictures on cigarette packages reminding smokers of the damage they do to their health every time they light up.
Brazil will become this week the second country in the world to attach anti-smoking pictures on cigarette packages. The image above reads: 'The Ministry of Health warns: smoking causes sexual impotence.' (Reuters)The move is the Brazilian government's latest tough stance against smoking after it made history by banning cigarette advertisements in newspapers and on television and made it illegal to smoke in public places.
Brazil's 30 million smokers, out of its total population of 170 million, will see an array of small pictures and messages warning them against their vice.
Included will be an image of a depressed couple in bed, whose sex life is suffering due to smoking, and a premature baby being kept alive with tubes as a reminder to parents who smoke. The existing warnings on packages will be highlighted.
``This is part of a host of measures which are being taken by the government to reduce the number of smokers in the country,'' said Ricardo Meirelles, head of the smoking division at the country's Cancer Institute (Inca).
``We know smoking is an illness, but changes in behavior are needed to fight it.''
The tough stance is the latest by Brazil's Health Minister, Jose Serra, who announced his presidential candidacy this month. He already took on big pharmaceutical companies by threatening to break the patents on AIDS drugs if they did not reduce prices.
Canada is the only other country in the world to put pictures on cigarette packages, although Brazil will not include such shocking images as disfigured organs that Canada uses.
Meirelles said the conclusion was not to have shocking images for now, although Brazil's cigarette packages will include telephone numbers smokers can call for guidance on how to quit smoking.
Brazil's cigarette companies, which sell an estimated 142 billion cigarettes a year, have annual revenues of around $3.54 billion.
Meirelles said Inca figures indicate that smoking prematurely kills 80,000 people every year in Brazil.
Cigarette companies, having already seen so much of their advertising space reduced by the government's rules, are not happy.
A spokesman for Souza Cruz, Brazil's largest cigarette company, said the pictures would ``create yet another restriction on the communication,'' of their products.
But he said it would be positive in ``creating a difference between legal products and the growing amount of illegal cigarettes.''
Health experts point out that in Canada smokers took to using special hoods or covers for their cigarette packages.
But all the same, figures from Canada's Cancer Society showed that of all the smokers that quit in Canada in 2001, a third said they were influenced by the pictures.