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Pictures tell it more effectively than words

CIGARETTE packets should include images of sickness and suffering caused by tobacco, along with written warnings, the World Health Organization said yesterday.

The United Nations agency urged governments to make people more aware of the health consequences of smoking. It said most countries still do not warn consumers of the risks on packages of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco.

"Health warnings on tobacco packages are a simple, cheap and effective strategy that can reduce tobacco use and save lives," said Ala Alwan, a senior WHO official. "Warnings that include images of the harm that tobacco causes are particularly effective at communicating risk and motivating behavioral changes, such as quitting or reducing tobacco consumption."

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death, killing more than 5 million people worldwide each year. WHO says it is the only legal consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended by the manufacturer.

Warning pictures on cigarette and other tobacco packs have helped smokers kick the habit and prevented others from becoming addicted, it said, citing studies in Brazil, Canada and Singapore.


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