Gruesome photos showing how deadly a habit smoking can be will be slapped on every cigarette packet sold in the UK from today.
The UK will be the first country in the EU to introduce such graphic picture warnings to cigarette packets – and the move has been welcomed by the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF).
Among the disturbing pictures appearing on cigarette packets from today are those of blackened teeth, rotting lungs, a corpse in a morgue and a baby in intensive care.
The images replace the previous written warning, although the messages ‘Smoking kills’ and ‘Smoking seriously harms you and others around you’ will continue to appear on the front of packets.
And the British Dental Health Foundation welcomed the introduction of these stark picture warnings.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the BDHF, commented: ‘The Foundation supports any measures designed to reduce the number of smokers in this country.
‘As well as the obvious oral health problems like gum disease, stained teeth and bad breath, smoking is also a major cause of mouth cancer – a killer of one person every five hours in the UK.’
The pictures were also welcomed by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) whose director, Deborah Arnott, said: ‘The stark images in the picture warnings on tobacco products are a call to action to smokers to quit, and the evidence is that they work.
‘The evidence also shows that picture warnings work better on plain packs, so we are urging the Government to also implement legislation to require the removal of pack branding to maximise the impact of the these images.’
Some see a disadvantage of the current EU law in that the picture warnings will only be printed on the reverse side of cigarette packs, and will therefore be less visible.
Tobacco manufacturers have one year in which to ensure that all cigarettes carry pictorial warnings – the last date for compliance with the law is 30 September 2009.
New figures show that written warnings had motivated more than 90,000 smokers to call the NHS Smoking Helpline, the Department of Health has said.
It expects the photos to be more effective than text alone.
Smoking is still the biggest killer in England where it causes the premature death of more than 87,000 people each year.