FROM today the UK will be the first country in the EU to introduce graphic picture warnings on all tobacco products.
The warnings illustrate the devastating effects that tobacco can have on health and aim to curb the smoking epidemic, which kills 13,516 people a year in the North West.
The new warnings, which include pictures of rotting teeth and lungs, throat cancer, and a “flacid cigarette”, will replace the written warnings currently featured on packs, which were introduced in January 2003.
Written warnings have been a huge success, according to new figures released today by the Department of Health.
Since their introduction more than 90,000 smokers have been motivated by the warnings to call the NHS Smoking Helpline (0800 169 0 169).
However, despite much progress over the past decade, which has resulted in 1.9m fewer smokers since 1983, smoking is still the biggest killer in England and causes the premature death of over 87,000 people each year.
Research suggests smokers are more likely to remember the damage they are doing to their health if they have seen a picture.
Dr Janet Atherton, chair of Smokefree North West, said: “There is significant evidence from countries that already have graphic warnings that these measures do act as a motivation for smokers to quit.
“Just as we saw with the introduction of the written warnings, the picture packs will provide smokers with another reminder of the harm of their addiction and encourage them to quit. Our region’s NHS Stop Smoking Services are on hand to provide help and advice.”
Last year, more than 59,000 smokers kicked the habit with local NHS Stop Smoking Services in the North West.
Smokers wishing to join them can find out more and order a free DVD explaining the different types of NHS support available to help smokers who want to quit, by calling 0800 169 0 169.