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Do smoking warnings work?

IN the run up to world No Tobacco Day, May 31, Solihull residents have been asked for their opinions of the picture health warnings on tobacco packets.

IN the run up to world No Tobacco Day, May 31, Solihull residents have been asked for their opinions of the picture health warnings on tobacco packets.

The theme for this year’s campaign is the effects of picture health warnings and Smokefree Solihull took it to the people of the borough to start the debate. Picture warnings were launched on UK tobacco packs last October and must appear on all cigarette packets by October 1, 2009.

In the UK, there are 14 different picture warnings showing the health effects of smoking. It is thought that graphic images in addition to text on the packet greatly increase the effect of the health warning and in Canada, 58 per cent of smokers said the warnings made them think more about the health effects of smoking.

Feedback from Solihull residents showed that smokers certainly react to them.

A 51 year old smoker said: “I feel so strongly about the warnings that I cover them with a sticker and I have even emptied the packet and put the cigarettes into a different one. I would like to stop smoking, though.”

A non-smoker, 16, said: “I think the picture warnings are much better than the old warnings as my dad smokes and the pictures show him the damage that it’s doing to him. I think it’s 10 times better to see it than to read it.”

A smoker, 23, said “I have a strong stomach and I don’t mind some of the images but I just don’t want to look at the pictures of the teeth and the tumour on the man’s neck. It’s not what I want to see on my cigarette packet.”

Denise Milnes, smokefree co-ordinator from Solihull NHS Care Trust said: “The picture warnings have been shown to encourage smokers to stop and think about the health effects of smoking and smokers obviously feel strongly about them. Tobacco is a highly addictive substance, killing half of the people who smoke it and health warnings are thought to be one of the cheapest and simplest ways to increase awareness of the dangers of smoking. We hope that they will urge smokers to take the best step they can to improve their health by stopping smoking”.

Every smoker in Solihull can phone their local NHS Stop Smoking Service for free, local help to quit. The phone number is 0121 712 8333 and help is available right across the borough through GP surgeries, pharmacies, drop-in sessions, clinics and dentists. Smokers are four times more likely to stop smoking with an NHS service than quitting without help.

 

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Cathrina Hulse
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Annette Belcher
Multimedia Journalist
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