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Key Facts About Graphic Pack Warnings and Tobacco Use in India

Graphic Pack Warnings

India is obliged to implement large graphic warnings
Under Article 11 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), parties are required to implement packaging and labelling that effectively communicates – to both current tobacco smokers and to non-smokers and youth – the health risks associated with tobacco use. India is a party to the FCTC.

The implementation of graphic pack warnings is one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption.
Large graphic warnings are effective
Large graphic warnings are so effective because the tobacco user easily sees the warning every time they reach for or look at the tobacco pack – so the message is repeated and reinforced numerous times, every day.

Research from around the globe has shown that graphic warnings are:

  • more likely to be noticed than text-only warning labels
  • more effective in communicating the actual health risks of tobacco use
  • more likely to increase the tobacco user’s thoughts about the health risks of tobacco use
  • more likely to increase the tobacco user’s motivation to quit
  • more likely to increase quit attempts
  • more likely to deter youth from initiating tobacco use
  • more likely to deliver a protective effect against relapse in ex-smokers 1 year after quitting.
  • Large graphic warnings are highly effective in communicating the health harms of tobacco, irrespective of the tobacco user’s level of literacy. In many countries, including India, a large number of tobacco users have only low levels of education.
  • Graphic warnings transcend language barriers in countries like India, where different languages and dialects are used across a large national population.
  • Graphic warnings are more effective in delivering information about the real harms of tobacco use in a powerful and immediate way.
  • As the tobacco industry pays for the packaging of the products it sells, large graphic warnings constitute the most cost-effective tool for governments to educate smokers and non-smokers alike about the health risks of tobacco use.
  • In many countries, more smokers report getting information about the health risks of smoking from warning labels than any other source except television.

The need for large graphic warnings in India:

  • A study published in 2014 in the Journal of Public Health- based upon research in India and several other low and middle income countries – found that current small or text-only warnings on tobacco packs do not help children understand the real harms of tobacco.
  • Critically, this study found that of all the countries surveyed, children in India exhibited the lowest levels of awareness of health warnings on tobacco packs.
  • Nearly 77% of Indian children surveyed could not recall seeing warning labels on tobacco packs.
  • 98.4% of Indian children expressed a weak or no understanding of current health warnings on tobacco packs.

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Facts About Tobacco

Under Article 11 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), parties are required to implement packaging and labelling that effectively communicates – to both current tobacco smokers and to non-smokers and youth – the health risks associated with tobacco use. India is a party to the FCTC.