• May 27, 2024

Push for Warnings on Individual Sticks

 Push for Warnings on Individual Sticks
Photo: Mihail

Lord Young of Cookham has introduced into the U.K. House of Lords a bill that would require cigarette manufacturers to print health warnings on individual cigarettes. The warnings—written in red on individual cigarettes—would include messages such as “smoking kills” and “you don’t need me anymore.”

“This is cost-free, popular and more effective than health warnings on packets,” said Young, who is also vice chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health.

Young had proposed the same measures when he was a health minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government, but they were rejected under pressure of the tobacco industry, which claimed the ink on the cigarettes would cause cancer. “Plainly this is nonsense given that tobacco already contains 70 cancer-causing chemicals,” said Young.

Health groups welcomed the proposal. “Cigarettes not cigarette packs kill smokers, so obviously the sticks themselves are where health warnings are most needed,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), in a statement.

“Lord Young’s private member’s bill could finally put the warnings on cigarettes he first proposed four decades ago. His bill is supported by parliamentarians, leading health organizations and the public.

“All that is needed is the support of government and Britain can become the first nation in the world to put ‘Smoking Kills’ where it belongs—on the cigarette itself.”

Cigarettes not cigarette packs kill smokers, so obviously the sticks themselves are where health warnings are most needed.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive, ASH

According to ASH, public support for this measure is high. In a poll conducted by YouGov for the organization, 70 percent of those surveyed supported the proposal for health warnings to be printed on cigarette sticks, two-thirds of them strongly. Only 8 percent opposed the proposal with the remainder (22 percent) answering that they neither supported nor opposed the proposal or didn’t know.

“Too many young people are still taking up smoking,” said Cancer Research U.K. Director of Policy Emlyn Samuel. “Government anti-smoking campaigns and tax rises on cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco remain the most effective ways to stop young people starting smoking. However, we need to continue to explore innovative methods to deter them from using cigarettes to ensure that youth smoking rates continue to fall. Cancer Research U.K.-funded research shows that tactics like making the cigarettes themselves unappealing could be an effective way of doing this.”

Simon Clark from smokers’ campaign group Forest said the idea to put the warnings on cigarettes was “laughable.”

“Smokers are well aware of the health risks,” he said.