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Association Européenne pour la Recherche et l’Expérimentation Tabacole

European Association for Tobacco Research and Experimentation

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Pictorials on cigarette packaging obligatory from Wednesday

Published: 04/28/2011

The legal notice that will make pictorial messages on cigarette packaging obligatory, in a bid to discourage smoking, is to come into effect next Wednesday, a Health Ministry spokesperson told this newspaper.

The legal notice regarding ‘Use of Colour Photographs or Other Illustrations as Health Warnings on Tobacco Packages Regulations, 2009’ was published on 27 October 2009.

This legal notice implements the Commission decision taken on 5 September 2003, regarding the use of colour photographs or other illustrations to depict the health consequences of smoking.

The regulation is to be enforced by the Environmental Health Officers, who have all the power to enforce tobacco related regulations as per the Tobacco (Smoking Control) Act.

This naturally includes the power to carry out inspections in outlets and seize any non-conforming products, besides taking legal action against the responsible persons.

Cigarettes and tobacco products found for sale after the mentioned dates will be deemed as contravening the combined warning regulation and further action will be taken accordingly, he said.

The penalties applicable under the Act range from € 232.94 up to a maximum of € 1,164.69.

The objective of such packaging is to serve to increase awareness on the health impact of smoking and amplify the warning messages by complementing them with graphics.

Evidence from countries where pictorial warnings have already been introduced shows that images have a greater impact than text warnings alone, the spokesperson said.

In Australia tobacco companies will be forced to strip all logos from their cigarette packaging, replacing these with graphic images such as cancer-riddled mouths, adopt dull olive green packaging and print brand names in a ‘small, uniform font’, AP reported.

According to the Australian government this legislation, which will remove one of the tobacco companies’ last methods of advertising, will make Australia the “world’s toughest country on tobacco advertising”.

As an EU member state Malta is presently following decisions and directives issued by the European Union, and so far the EU has not issued any legislation with regards to plain packaging, the ministry spokesperson said.

He explained that despite having said that, Malta is closely following such debate as a member of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization.

“However at the moment it is still too early to discuss plain packaging legislation since the combined warning legislation has as yet not come into force,” he said.

According to the NSO Lifestyle Survey 2007 around 33% of the Maltese population are smokers, a figure which is more serious in view of the consequences of passive smoking.

The consequences related to smoking are various, and while lung cancer is the main tobacco-related disease, smokers also stand a high risk of developing other cancers (mouth, throat and pancreatic cancer, for instance), and cardiovascular disease, and they are also more susceptible to infections.

There is an ongoing EU-wide anti-smoking campaign ‘Help’, which targets primarily young people and young adults. This is partly down to the increase in the number of young smokers.

The general motto is providing help and support “for a life without tobacco” by delivering comprehensive information on health and social problems related to tobacco consumption.

It is an integrated campaign including television, the internet and new media such as mini-sites accessible through mobile phones. The website is available in 22 languages and the web and media campaign will be complemented by a series of European and national public and press relations events.

The Malta Independent Online

 

 

 



Association Européenne pour la Recherche et l'expérimentation Tabacole

European Association for Tobacco Research and Experimentation

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