Health officials point to the strong and easily recognisable messages the disturbing logos send about the health risks of smoking
One of six proposed graphic warning labels under review for use in Cambodia.
NEW graphic warning labels will grace all cigarette packs sold in Cambodia beginning next month if the government approves a plan by the Ministry of Health, according to a government health official.
"Three of four families in Cambodia are suffering from the health impacts of smoking, so it is essential we alert people to the negative impact of cigarettes," said Lim Thai Khean, director of the National Center for Health Promotion of the Ministry of Health, adding that he was confident the government would support the proposal.
The six proposed warning logos would point to various adverse health effects associated with smoking, including lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, stroke, tooth decay and the dangers of secondhand smoke, he said.
He said graphic logos have proven effective at deterring potential cigarette buyers in other countries because they expressed the health hazards of smoking in visual terms that cannot be ignored.
If the proposal by the Ministry of Health is approved by the government, the new labels would be tacked onto cigarette packs beginning mid-February.
Loud and clear
Currently, only some cigarette companies in Cambodia print warning labels on their packs, and their labels tend to be muted. Studies indicate that warnings using only text have little effect on the behaviour of cigarette consumers.
"I am optimistic all tobacco companies would follow the scheme. Some of them may be late [to conform], but they have to do what we tell them," Lim Thai Khean said.
Mom Kong, executive director of the NGO Cambodia Movement for Health, also emphasised the easily recognised message of graphic warnings.
"It's an efficient and straightforward way to reduce cigarette smoking because it sends a message about the impact of smoking that both literate and illiterate people can understand, even children," he said.
The labels are part of a wider government program to limit tobacco use among the population, including a recently introduced measure in Kampot to prohibit smoking in all of the province's government health clinics.
According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation, 5.4 million people die annually as a consequence of smoking, 80 percent of them in developing countries.