Cigarette package images designed to shock smokers

One of 14 graphic images on cigarette packets designed to deter people from smoking. Photograph: Alan Betson

One of 14 graphic images on cigarette packets designed to deter people from smoking. Photograph: Alan Betson

Sat, Feb 2, 2013, 00:00

Images of diseased lungs and rotting teeth printed on cigarette packets since yesterday have been described by a smokers’ lobby group as “a waste of time”.

Forest Éireann spokesman John Mallon said the images, part of a Department of Health campaign to deter smoking, would be “filtered out” by smokers.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said he hoped the 14 images, developed by the European Commission, would shock smokers into quitting and prevent young people from taking up the habit.

“Half, or one in two, of all long-term smokers will die from smoking-related diseases,” he said.

“There is no doubt that if tobacco was discovered today, knowing what we know about its lethal effects, it would not be a legal product.

“If by introducing these graphic images on cigarette packs some people are shocked into considering how smoking impacts on them and their families, then the warnings will have achieved their objectives.”

Chief medical officer with the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan said smoking remained the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in Ireland, killing more than 5,200 people a year.

However, Mr Mallon described the images as “short shelf-life shock therapy”.

“Like all ads, people will filter them out. You won’t look at what you don’t want to look at.”

He said the images were “part of an insidious campaign to marginalise, coerce and bully smokers”.

He said those who say that the campaign will be worth it if it saves just one life should instead divert their attention to labelling alcohol bottles with images of diseased livers.

“We are talking about a legal product that 1.3 million of us enjoy,” he said.

“It’s not mind-altering; people don’t beat up their wives or crash their cars under the influence of a cigarette.”