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More countries adding graphic warnings to smokes

In Uruguay, graphic warnings cover 80 percent of cigarette packs. The top portion of this one reads, “Smoking, you stink,” while the bottom reads, “Smoking causes bad breath.”
In Uruguay, graphic warnings cover 80 percent of cigarette packs. The top portion of this one reads, “Smoking, you stink,” while the bottom reads, “Smoking causes bad breath.”
Published Jun. 28, 2014

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia became the latest country to mandate graphic photo warnings on cigarette packs on Tuesday, joining about 40 nations or territories that have adopted similar regulations in recent years. The warnings, which showcase gruesome, closeup images ranging from rotting teeth and cancerous lungs to open tracheotomy holes and corpses, are an effort to highlight the health risks of smoking.

Research suggests these images have prompted people to quit, but the World Health Organization estimates nearly 6 million people continue to die globally each year from smoking-related causes. The tobacco industry has fought government efforts to introduce or increase the size of graphic warnings in some countries.

Here are a few countries where pictorial health warnings have made headlines:


The law: 40 percent of the pack covered by graphic photos.

Timing: Deadline to be on the shelves was Tuesday.

Background: Many companies missed the deadline. Indonesia, a country of about 240 million, has the world's highest rate of male smokers at 67 percent and the second-highest rate overall. Its government is among the few that has not signed a World Health Organization treaty on tobacco control.


The law: No brand logos permitted; graphic health warnings required on 75 percent of the front and 90 percent of the back.

Timing: Plain packaging law went into effect in 2012.

Background: Australia became the first country to mandate packs with no brand logo or colors. Packs are solid brown and covered in large, graphic warnings. Companies fought the law, but the country's highest court upheld it. Recent figures show cigarette consumption down about 5 percent from last year.

United States

The law: No graphic pictures on packs.

Timing: The government stepped away from a legal battle with companies in March 2013.

Background: After the tobacco industry sued, a Food and Drug Administration order to include the graphic labels was blocked last year by an appeals court, which ruled the photos violated First Amendment free speech protections. The government opted not to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court but will instead develop new warnings.


The law: Graphic warning legislation approved this month requires 50 percent of the bottom of the pack to be covered by graphic warnings.

Timing: Legislation awaits the president's signature.

Background: The Philippines is expected to join a handful of other countries that put graphic warnings at the bottom of their packs, meaning they are not visible when displayed on store shelves. Anti-smoking advocates say labels on the bottom of packs are less effective.


The law: Graphic warnings cover 80 percent of packs.

Timing: Regulations implemented in 2010.

Background: Uruguay, a leader in strict tobacco controls, mandated the largest graphic warnings ever in 2010. One of the labels depicts a person smoking a battery to show that cigarettes contain the toxic metal cadmium. Philip Morris International sued Uruguay over the law, and the case is pending.

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Associated Press


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