TORONTO, Nov. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- An international report released today by the Canadian Cancer Society shows that 105 countries and territories have required picture health warnings on cigarette packages. This significant milestone in global public health will reduce smoking and save lives. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161109/437702 The report - Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report - ranks 205 countries and territories on the size of their health warnings on cigarette packages, and lists countries and territories that require graphic picture warnings. The report also shows a significant global momentum toward plain packaging with 4 countries requiring plain packs and 14 working on it. "There is a powerful worldwide trend for countries to use graphic pictures on cigarette packages to show the devastating health effects of smoking, and to require plain packaging," says Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. Examples of graphic picture warnings include a diseased lung or mouth, a patient with lung cancer in a hospital bed and a child being exposed to secondhand smoke. The report also shows that many countries have increased the size of picture warnings on cigarette packages. These larger pictures are known to be more effective. Cigarette package warnings are a highly cost-effective way to increase awareness of the negative health effects of smoking and to reduce tobacco use. Picture-based warnings convey a more powerful message than a text-only warning, and larger ones increase impact. Guidelines under the international tobacco treaty - the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) - recommend that warnings should:
be as large as is achievable
include a rotated series of graphic pictures
be at the top of both the front and back of packages.
Picture warnings are especially valuable for low- and middle-income countries where there are higher rates of illiteracy and where governments may have few resources. Health departments determine the content of warnings, and the tobacco industry is responsible for printing the warnings on packages.