The focus of this year’s World No Tobacco Day is on marketing to women among whom smoking rates are increasing. Marketing literature routinely highlights the critical role played by pack design in marketing, emphasizing that the “product package is the communication life-blood of the firm”, the “silent salesman” that reaches out to customers.
During the event, John Dalli, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy unveiled a panel illustrating a pictorial warning covering 80% of the front and back of a standardised cigarette pack. The panel was designed by the EU tobacco control community and displayed at at the latest display of “The Power of Communications against Tobacco” exhibition, hosted by Frederique Ries MEP and organised by the European Cancer Leagues and Pfizer to mark World No Tobacco Day.
At the conference in the European Parliament, an international panel of experts explained the importance of preventing the tobacco industry from marketing to young people. A 15 year old Scottish girl launched The Plain Truth Campaign.
Tobacco kills more than five million people every year. It is the only legal consumer product that kills half of all long-term users when used exactly as intended by the manufacturer. Effective health warnings, especially those that include pictures, have been shown to motivate users to quit and to reduce the appeal of tobacco for those who are not yet addicted. Yet, in the European Union, only 6 out of the 27 EU countries have introduced warnings with pictures on tobacco packs. France recently became the sixth EU country to announce that it will require pictorial warnings from 2012, joining Belgium (2006), Romania (2008), UK (2008), Latvia (2010) and Malta (2011). Worldwide, at least 38 jurisdictions require such warnings.
Last month, Australia set out plans for new rules forcing tobacco companies to use standardised packaging with picture health warnings. This will mean that from July 2012, manufacturers would be required to remove all colour and branding logos from cigarette packets. All tobacco products will be sold in a standard colour and style, and carry government health warnings.
“The tobacco industry uses multi-million dollar promotional campaigns, including carefully crafted package designs, to trap new users, especially young women. The tobacco pack is a ’silent salesman‘ carefully designed with a particular customer in mind; for instance, cigarettes packets for women are often packaged in slim, long packs, often with pastel or toned down colours, to meet perceived desires to appear feminine and sophisticated.
The review of the Tobacco Products Directive, currently underway, constitutes a major opportunity to introduce mandatory graphic warnings and standardised packaging in the European Union (and beyond); the Australian success is a huge boost to the campaign we have started and we hope that EU decision makers will seize this opportunity to follow the Australian example." said Florence Berteletti Kemp, Director of the Smoke Free Partnership.
“Today’s "World No Tobacco Day" is a good opportunity to remind Europeans of what tobacco consumption means for their health and for their lives. It means sickness, suffering and premature death. I believe the time has come to strenghten our efforts to fight tobacco and its consequences on people’s health. With this in mind, the Commission will soon launch a public consultation on the possible revision of the Tobacco Products Directive” said John Dalli, EU Commissioner for Health and Consummer Policy
“Consumers of tobacco products have a right to know about the dangerous health consequences of tobacco use. Requiring tobacco companies to place warnings on packages is fair, just and legal. represents a major opportunity to introduce in the European Union mandatory pictorial warnings combined with standardized packaging. This measure would enable consumers to make a fully informed choice. I call upon my colleagues in the European Parliament to support this measure during the review of the 2001 Tobacco Product Directive” said Frieda Breopels, MEP.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
For media enquiries, please contact Florence Berteletti Kemp, on +32 2 238 53 63 or 0496 12 43 02, firstname.lastname@example.org