BANGKOK – The Public Health Ministry on Friday met with the Thailand Anti Tobacco Committee to discuss changes to existing regulations, proposal is to increase the warning from 55% of the package’s space to 85%.
There will be 10 picture warnings showing in graphic detail the consequences of smoking, including laryngeal cancer, heart failure, stroke, oral cancer, sexual dysfunction, lung cancer, emphysema and chronic bad breath.
Public Health Minister Pradit Sintawanarong said the committee would return to discuss the issue further in the next two months and if the plan is approved, Thailand would have the world’s largest cigarette warning graphics, surpassing Australia where they cover 82.5% of the space on packets.
Worldwide, 63 countries have picture warnings on cigarette packs. In Australia, the warnings cover 82.5 per cent of the pack. Uruguay and Sri Lanka have 80 per cent, and Brunei and Canada 75 per cent. In Southeast Asia, only Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore have the picture warnings. Thailand became the fourth country in the world to do so, starting in 2005.
According to The World Health Organization says Hard-hitting anti-tobacco advertisements and graphic pack warnings – especially those that include pictures – reduce the number of children who begin smoking and increase the number of smokers who quit.
Studies carried out after the implementation of pictorial package warnings in Brazil, Canada, Singapore and Thailand consistently shows that pictorial warnings significantly increase people’s awareness of the harms of tobacco use.
Mass media campaigns can also reduce tobacco consumption, by influencing people to protect non-smokers and convincing youths to stop using tobacco.
- Just 19 countries, representing 15% of the world’s population, meet the best practice for pictorial warnings, which includes the warnings in the local language and cover an average of at least half of the front and back of cigarette packs. No low-income country meets this best-practice level.
- Forty-two countries, representing 42% of the world’s population, mandate pictorial warnings.
- Graphic warnings can persuade smokers to protect the health of non-smokers by smoking less inside the home and avoiding smoking near children.
- More than 1.9 billion people, representing 28% of the world’s population, live in the 23 countries that have implemented at least one strong anti-tobacco mass media campaign within the last two years.
- Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
- Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of whom more than 5 million are users and ex users and more than 600 000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030.
- Nearly 80% of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.
- Consumption of tobacco products is increasing globally, though it is decreasing in some high-income and upper middle-income countries.
Leading cause of death, illness and impoverishment
The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. It kills nearly six million people a year of whom more than 5 million are users and ex users and more than 600 000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco and this accounts for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.
Nearly 80% of the more than one billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.
Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.
In some countries, children from poor households are frequently employed in tobacco farming to provide family income. These children are especially vulnerable to “green tobacco sickness”, which is caused by the nicotine that is absorbed through the skin from the handling of wet tobacco leaves – Anna Wong