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BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

There is a great wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating the detrimental health


effects on smokers, including increased risks of heart disease, lung cancer and other
respiratory diseases. Research has also highlighted the health risks to non-smokers
from second hand smoke, in particular in the work environment, but also to nonsmoking partners / children in the home environment as well as health damage to
pregnant women.
Health warnings on the packages of tobacco products are a cost-effective tool (the cost
is borne by the industry) for communicating the dangers of tobacco usage as well as
encouraging consumers to quit. The first EU wide requirements for tobacco labeling
were introduced in 1989 through the labeling Directive (89/622/EEC) and amended in
1992 through Directive 92/41EC. This stated that all tobacco products should carry
specific warnings but only required the warnings to cover 4-8% of the front and back of
the pack. Initially, the health warnings were in text form.
The Tobacco Product Directive (2001/37/EC) introduced bolder health messages and
radically increased the size of the warnings and improved their legibility. According to
the Directive each unit packet of tobacco products intended to be smoked must carry a
general warning (Smoking Kills / Smoking can kill or Smoking seriously harms you
and others around you) covering at least 30-35% of the front and one of the fourteen
additional warning sets covering at least 40-50% of the back. Non-combustible tobacco
products shall carry the general warning This tobacco product can damage your health
and is addictive.
The Directive allows Member States to require additional warnings in the form of colour
photographs and other illustrations. For that purpose the Commission adopted rules for
the use of pictorial warnings (Decision 2003/642EC) and established a library of 42
selected sourced documents. There are three images for each health warning. Member
States can choose illustrations most suitable for consumers in their country. Belgium
was the first EU Member State to introduce pictorial warnings on cigarette packs in
November 2006, followed by Romania in July 2008 and the UK in October 2008. Latvia
has also adopted legislation to require the use of pictorials from March 2010, and six
further EU Member States plan to introduce pictorial warnings in the near future.
Outside the EU the following 15 countries have introduced pictorial warnings: Canada
(2000), Brazil (2001), Singapore (2004), Venezuela (2005), Thailand (2005), Australia
(2006), Uruguay (2006), Chile (2006), Jordan (2007), Hong Kong (2007), New Zealand
(2008), Brunei (2008), Egypt (2008), Panama (2008) and Cook Island (2008).

Other countries that have adopted legislation to introduce pictorial warnings in 2009 /
2010 include China, Djibouti, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Peru,
Switzerland and Vietnam.
The Commission was therefore keen to obtain a rigorous review of the current scientific
knowledge on health and tobacco labeling, an evaluation of the impact of existing
textual and pictorial warnings, and proposals for future warning messages, based on
state of the art knowledge on direct / indirect tobacco related risks / harm. The results
will be used by the Commission to develop proposals for a new set of warning texts and
graphical images (based on reliable scientific evidence) that will be more effective in
warning consumers of the potential risks and harm associated with both direct and
passive smoking.