Pictorial health warnings are most effective way of broadcasting health messages across wide spectrum of population about the adverse health effects of tobacco use. Pictorial warning labels detract from the glamour and appeal of tobacco products and help to create an environment where ‘tobacco-free’ is the norm.

Effective warning labels increase knowledge about risks associated with tobacco use more effectively than text-only warnings. In a country like India where one-third of the population is illiterate, pictorial warnings can communicate health messages effectively and prevent uptake and motivate tobacco user to quit.

Countries with strong and effective pictorial warnings are experiencing major reduction in tobacco use. Larger the pictorial warnings on tobacco packs more are the chances of people avoiding it. Strong and effective pictorial warnings are able to realistically depict the whole trauma, agony and the pain caused to the death, disease and disability related to tobacco use.

International Evidence in support of Pictorial health warnings

• Evidence from Canada and Australia shows that pictorial warnings increase awareness about the health risks of smoking amongst smokers and reduce consumption.

• In Brazil, 54% of smokers changed their opinion on the health consequences of smoking because of the pictorial warnings and 67% of smokers said the warnings made them want to quit.

• 50 % of smokers in European Union said that warnings compel them to smoke less around other people; 31 % of ex-smokers report that picture warnings motivated them to quit.

• The results in countries having pictorial warnings have suggested that picture warnings are on an average, 60 times more effective in terms of encouraging tobacco cessation and prevention.

Credits: this advocacy card is published and distributed by Indian Society Against Smoking (ISAS), Asha Parivar. We acknowledge the financial contribution received from Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco use and technical contribution received from HRIDAY on behalf of Advocacy Forum for Tobacco Control - AFTC (Delhi).

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