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Perhaps these warning shots that are now coming across the bow of every smoker will hit home. In an effort to stem the growth of smoking globally, governments are now slapping warning labels on the packs of all cigarettes. Check them out:

In early 2006 a new initiative was introduced in Australia, with graphic images depicting the effects of smoking  cigarettes to be displayed on cigarette packets.  Warnings must cover 30% of the front and 90% of the back of the box. The 10% of the back not occupied by a warning is used by the message “Sale to underage persons prohibited”.

For cigarette packets, warnings include: Smoking causes peripheral vascular disease Smoking causes emphysema Smoking causes mouth and throat cancer Smoking clogs your arteries Don’t let children breath your smoke Smoking – A leading cause of death Quitting will improve your health Smoking harms unborn babies Smoking causes blindness Smoking causes lung cancer Smoking causes heart disease Smoking doubles your risk of stroke Smoking is addictive Tobacco smoke is toxic

With each warning is an accompanying graphic, and detailed information on the back of the packet. In addition, cigar and loose tobacco packets show other, slightly altered warnings. These warnings target the misconception that alternative, non-cigarette tobacco products are less harmful.


In Germany, the message is more of the same but less graphical, with the following messages printed on the labels and packs: Smoking is lethal, Smoking severely harms you and the people around you, Smokers die sooner, Smoking leads to clogging of arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes, Smoking while pregnant harms your child, Protect children – don’t let them breathe your tobacco smoke! Your doctor or pharmacist can help you to give up smoking. Smoking is very quickly addictive: Don’t start in the first place, Giving up smoking reduces the risk of fatal heart and lung diseases. Smoking can lead to a slow and painful death. Smoking can lead to blood circulation disorders and causes impotence. Smoking makes your skin age. Smoking can damage spermatozoa and decreases your fertility. Smoke contains benzene, nitrosamine, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide. Talk about driving the point home! We can’t think of anything more effective in the fight to stop smoking world wide, then the cold hard facts about what smoking can do to you! Here is Germanys label:


The Canadian Tobacco Act requires warnings to be printed on all tobacco products sold in Canada.

Each warning is printed along with a short explanation and is accompanied by a picture illustrating that particular warning, for example:

85% of lung cancers are caused by smoking.
80% of lung cancer victims die within three years.

Accompanied by a picture of a human lung detailing cancerous growths.


In France, the warnings are similar to Germany with: Smokers die prematurely, Smoking clogs arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes, Smoking causes fatal lung cancer, Smoking during pregnancy harms your child’s health, Help yourself quit smoking: call 0 825 309 310.


In Hong Kong, thery are even more adamant in their usage of warnings.

Packaging must indicate the amount of nicotine and tar is present in cigarette boxes in addition to graphics depicting different health problems caused by smoking in the size and ratio as prescribed by law. The warnings are to be published in both official languages, Traditional Chinese and English.

Warning begins with the phrase ‘HKSAR GOVERNMENT WARNING’ and then one of the following in all caps.

  • Smoking causes lung cancer
  • Smoking kills
  • Smoking harms your family
  • Smoking causes Peripheral Vascular Diseases
  • Smoking may cause impotence
  • Smoking can accelerate aging of skin

In addition, any print advertisement must give minimum 20% coverage of the following warnings: HKSAR GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING

  • January -February SMOKING KILLS


In Italy, the message is more of the same but with some variance in the delivery. Smoking kills / Smoking may kill, Smoking heavily damages you and whoever is near you, Smokers die early, Smoking clogs arteries and causes heart diseases and strokes, Smoking causes fatal lung cancer, Smoking during pregnancy injures the baby, Protect the kids, don’t smoke in their presence, Your doctor or your pharmacist may help you quit smoking, Specialists in the medical profession may help you quit smoking, Smoking is highly addictive, don’t start, Quitting smoking reduces the risk of deadly cardiovascular and lung diseases, Smoking causes oral cancer.


In Latvia, here is their label.


The Netherlands.




South Korea, with a bit of a twist on the message: Smoking causes lung cancer and other dieseases and it is especially dangerous for teenagers and pregnant women and It is illegal to sell cigarettes to people under 19! It hurts your children’s health. Smoking damages your health. Once you start smoking, it is very difficult to quit.


In the United Kingdom, the message is quite clear. One of the following general warnings must be displayed, covering at least 30% of the surface of the pack:

  • Smoking kills
  • Smoking seriously harms you and others around you

Additionally, one of the following additional warnings must be displayed, covering at least 40% of the surface of the pack:

  • Smokers die younger
  • Smoking clogs the arteries and causes heart attacks and strokes
  • Smoking causes fatal lung cancer
  • Smoking when pregnant harms your baby
  • Protect children: don’t make them breathe your smoke
  • Your doctor or your pharmacist can help you stop smoking
  • Smoking is highly addictive, don’t start
  • Stopping smoking reduces the risk of fatal heart and lung diseases
  • Smoking can cause a slow and painful death
  • Get help to stop smoking: telephone/postal address/internet address/consult your doctor/pharmacist
  • Smoking may reduce the blood flow and cause impotence
  • Smoking causes ageing of the skin
  • Smoking can damage the sperm and decreases fertility
  • Smoke contains benzene, nitrosamines, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide.

The first written warnings on packets in Britain appeared in 2003, and shocking warning pictures are set to appear on British packets in 2008 alongside the written messages, revealed Alan Johnson, Secretary of Health in August 2007.


In conclusion, we certainly applaud the efforts of other countries, but it is not enough. Developing nations are smoking more and more and something needs to be done to provide some type of free resource to help these people quit. There are certainly many avenues and channels to acquire cigarettes, but how many exist to help people quit smoking?


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