Graphic Cigarette Pack Labels Curb Habit
TORONTO (Reuters) - Graphic images of lung tumors and bloody, diseased gums emblazoned on Canadian cigarette packs have made smokers more likely to try to quit, said a government-funded study released on Wednesday.
``It's clear that the warnings work, and one result will be improved health for many Canadians,'' said Ken Kyle, director of public issues for the Canadian Cancer Society.
The shocking images, which the Cancer Society said Brazil will introduce by the end of January and which are an option for members of the European Union (news - web sites), cover up half of a Canadian cigarette pack. They have been mandatory in Canada for over a year.
One picture shows a brain after a stroke, another is of a damaged heart, and a third shows a limp, dangling cigarette -- illustrating the role that smoking plays in impotence.
The study, conducted for the Canadian Cancer Society in the fall of 2001, covered 2,031 participants, 633 of them smokers.
Almost half the smokers in the study said the warnings had increased their motivation to quit, while more than a third of smokers who tried to quit in 2001 said the labels had been a factor.
About a fifth of smokers in the study said the pictures had at least once curbed their urge to light up, while 25 percent of smokers said they covered the package with a sleeve so they couldn't see the picture.
The study's release coincides with a drive across much of Canada to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places. Earlier this week, a Canadian prisoner won a C$2,500 ($1,500) government payout after he was forced to share a jail cell with a smoker for 17 days.
This amounted to ``cruel and unusual punishment'' the smoker said.
Cigarette companies, severely restricted where and how they can promote their products, have resorted to tactics that included erecting a non-branded smoking tent in the heart of Toronto's financial district last summer. The tent featured comfy chairs, television sets and air conditioning.
At least two cigarette manufacturers have introduced in-store display racks that try to cover up the warnings, while one firm attempted to market tins of tobacco which did not show the disturbing images.
Smokers have also started Internet sites where benign labels can be downloaded and used to cover the graphic images. An image with a smiley face describes smoking as cool, while a skull and crossbones picture says happily that ``smoking preserves meat.''
Half of nonsmokers surveyed in the study said the labels made them feel better about choosing not to smoke, and more than half of smokers said the pictures had raised their awareness of the effect of smoking on their health.