WHO wants more graphic warnings to cut smoking rates

Thu Jul 7, 2011 2:00pm GMT

* WHO reports some progress against tobacco, experts urge more

* Graphic warnings proven to reduce smoking's attraction

* Tobacco seen killing 8 million people a year by 2030

By Kate Kelland

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - More than a billion people in 19 countries are now covered by laws requiring large, graphic health warnings on tobacco packs but too many countries are still not doing enough to cut smoking rates, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.

In its third Global Tobacco Epidemic report, the United Nations health body said such warnings are proven to motivate people to quit smoking and also to reduce tobacco's appeal for people who are not yet addicted.

"We are pleased that more and more people are being adequately warned about the dangers of tobacco use," said Ala Alwan, a WHO expert on noncommunicable diseases and mental health. "At the same time, we can't be satisfied that the majority of countries are doing nothing or not enough."

More than a billion people worldwide are tobacco smokers and 80 percent of them live in poorer regions. Some experts have accused tobacco firms of capitalising on societal changes in poor countries to target new potential smokers, particularly women, and of marketing cigarettes as a symbol of emancipation or greater economic prosperity.

Up to half of all smokers will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease and the WHO describes tobacco as "one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced".   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.