Tobacco products: European Commission adopts 14 new health warnings
The European Commission has adopted 14 new health warnings to appear on tobacco packs. Written health warnings on tobacco products sold in the EU have been compulsory since 2003. The legislation in force also foresees periodic updating of the health warnings.
The 14 new health warnings adopted today were chosen from amongst 24 possible messages and following tests among focus groups made up of citizens from all 27 Member States through a Eurobarometer study. Thereafter the warnings were discussed and agreed with the 27 Member States.
Whereas most adult smokers in the EU are probably aware that smoking is harmful for their health, they tend to underestimate or ignore the manifold dangers that smoking poses. Available evidence suggests that textual warnings have an impact on smokers' attitudes and behaviours. In order to remain effective however, such warnings need to be updated regularly.
Member States have two years to introduce the new written health warnings. The Tobacco Products Directive also makes it possible for Member States to combine text warnings with graphic images which are even more effective since they convey warnings in a more vivid way (Press Release European Commission, 7 March 2012).