The case for requiring warnings directly on individual cigarettes
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Canadian Cancer Society, Ottawa, Canada
Publication date: 2021-12-10
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2021;7(Supplement):63
This presentation will provide the rationale to require a health warning directly on cigarettes.
With on-cigarette warnings, smokers would be exposed to health messages all year, every day, and every time they smoke. The measure would decrease smoking at no cost to government. On-cigarette warnings would denormalize the product, make cigarettes less attractive, prompt discussion, and help combat contraband by providing a legitimating marking for a particular country.
Many youth experiment with smoking by “borrowing” a cigarette from a friend/sibling. Social smokers may borrow a cigarette. Children see cigarette butts in ashtrays at home. Smokers may bring a single cigarette without packaging when going outside to smoke. A warning on a cigarette is unavoidable, including when smokers have a cigarette in hand when smoking for 5 minutes. In many countries, especially in low- and middle-income countries, cigarettes are often available for sale individually, without packaging. These are all excellent communication opportunities. The content of an on-cigarette warning could include a variety of rotated health messages, pictograms, and messages such as a toll-free quitline number, “Quit smoking save money”, or a message about litter. On-cigarette warnings complement package warnings.
Extensive and continually increasing research from many countries provides compelling evidence of the effectiveness of the measure. Tobacco companies have long used branding and designs on the cigarette itself for promotional purposes - if tobacco companies can use the cigarette to promote smoking, health departments should be able to use the cigarette to discourage smoking.
On-cigarette warnings are included in FCTC Article 11 guidelines on packaging and labelling. No country has yet required the measure, though Canada has had a public consultation, and a bill has been introduced in the UK Parliament. Singapore has required a tax marking directly on cigarettes. Health warnings directly on cigarettes are inevitable and should be considered worldwide.
No Conflicts of Interest were reported.
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