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Smoking Warning Images
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It is common knowledge that smoking is harmful to one’s health. It is not easy for smokers to quit, however. Even though smoking results in a higher rate of cancer, there is a tendency to ignore this.

Not so long ago, British scientists claimed that 80% of people are optimists who always think positively, even if you present them with negative evidence to the contrary.

Noh Eung-keun, editorial writer

Accordingly, warnings that smoking can kill won’t work as long as smokers think their own chances of developing cancer are low, the researchers said.

Despite this, warning images and messages on cigarette packs have reportedly had a great effect in reducing the desire to smoke and encouraging smokers to quit.

In Canada, which first adopted warning images on cigarette packs in 2001, it is said that the smoking rate dropped from 24% in 2000 to under 20% today.

About 20 nations have now adopted this system, including Brazil, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Singapore.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted in 2003 by the World Health Organization as a way for the international community to join forces in confronting the dangers of smoking, recommends that at least 30% of the area of a cigarette pack be covered with warning images, such as pictures of a cancerous lung.

Tobacco companies are protesting this trend. In June this year, the American Food and Drug Administration, FDA, announced that as of September 2012, cigarette manufacturers would be required to include on cigarette packs nine photographs that explicitly show the harmful effects of smoking, including images of a person with 'a hole in his throat' and 'a blackened lung.'

In response, the tobacco companies filed a suit claiming that the regulation violated their freedom of expression, and a court ordered that the regulation be suspended until the lawsuit is concluded.

Previously, when Australia announced it would be removing company logos from cigarette packs and making them all the drab yellow-green color that smokers find most unattractive, Philip Morris said it would launch an investor-state dispute, contending that its intellectual property rights had been violated.

South Korea ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005, but it has not adequately implemented its major provisions.

A bill that would require warning images on cigarette packs has been stuck in the National Assembly for years due to concerns about losses to tobacco farming families and tobacco exports.

Instead, cigarette packs are growing sleeker and flashier. The warning messages are buried in the appealing designs and do not come across as serious.

Moreover, descriptors like "low-tar," "light," "mild," and "pure" are misleading consumers into thinking cigarettes are good for them. The people's health is more important than tax revenues and exports.

We should suppress the desire to smoke and help people quit by adopting strong warning images. ("Ink Dregs" by Noh Eung-keun, editorial writer. The Kyunghyang Dialy News, Dec 26, 2011.)

Copyright The Kyunghyang Shinmun. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution without permission absolutely prohibited.

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