Warning Labels

Large, picture-based health warning labels on tobacco packages are an essential component of a national strategy to reduce tobacco use. Tobacco companies depend on package design to build brand recognition and promote sales. Packaging establishes brand imagery that is often completely opposite to the realities and dangers associated with tobacco product use.Control over tobacco packaging is critical to tobacco control efforts here in Africa.Tobacco packs can effectively broadcast messages about the harmful impact of tobacco use.Research shows that effective warning labels increase knowledge about risks associated with smoking and can influence future decisions about smoking. Large and graphic warning labels can motivate smokers to quit, discourage nonsmokers from starting, and keep ex-smokers from starting again.

Studies have also found that warning labels are most effective at communicating the health risks of tobacco use when they contain both pictures and words and are large and in color. Warning labels also must be rotated periodically to avoid over exposure.
Article 11 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires Parties to the treaty to adopt and implement large, clear, and rotating health warnings on all tobacco products within three years of FCTC ratification.



People have died from tobacco-related diseases in Africa since the opening of the first FCTC working group on 28 October 1999.

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