Nepal’s initiative to use pictorial warnings on tobacco packages will save lives: WHO

Nepal’s initiative to use pictorial warnings on tobacco packages will save lives: WHO

Place: Kathmandu, Nepal
Data:27 April 2014

The World Health Organization applauded Nepal’s initiative to provide pictorial health warnings covering 75% of all tobacco packages to warn users that tobacco kills. Over half of men (52%) use any kind of tobacco in Nepal. Nearly one in three (30%) smokes manufactured cigarettes, 7% uses other smoked products, and 35% uses smokeless tobacco products: all of which must now carry pictorial health warnings.

Health warnings on tobacco packages, when used effectively and in sufficiently large sizes, have proven to influence people’s decisions about tobacco use. Large and graphic pictorial warnings that cover at least half of both the front and back of tobacco packages are more effective than smaller or text only warnings.

“We applaud Nepal’s vision to educate the Nepalese people about the ill-effects of tobacco through graphic warnings. Tobacco is the only legal product that is proven to cause disease and eventually kill people,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.

“The untiring efforts of the Ministry of Health, Nepal have finally paid off. Nepal is now able to protect people’s fundamental right to information about the harms of tobacco use. Warning labels are one of the most cost-effective tobacco-control interventions, and are being implemented at virtually no cost to the Government” she added.

Use of graphic pack warnings has increased since 2010. 265 million people now live in 11 countries (Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, Madagascar, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Seychelles, and Turkey) that provide pictorial warnings on tobacco packages that are sufficiently large, use pictures, and include all other appropriate characteristics of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) guideline.

“Nepal has now joined countries such as Australia (83%), Uruguay (80%), Brunei Darussalam (75%), and Canada (75%) that implement graphic warnings on at least three quarters of front and back of all tobacco products. Nepal now leads the 11 countries of WHO’s South- East Asia Region on the issue of pictorial warnings,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh.

Thailand has implemented pictorial warnings converging 55% of the front and back of tobacco products and, along with Sri Lanka, has regulations for covering 80% of tobacco packages front and back. These countries have not yet been able to implement these policies, however, because of court cases by the tobacco industry.