‘Terror campaign’ against smoking.


A chara, – Patrick Basham (“Terror campaign directed at smoking applies a faulty logic”, Opinion & Analysis, July 20th) disapproves of the use of graphic pictorial warnings on cigarette packets. He laudably discloses that his scholarly institutions have received funding from the tobacco industry. He goes on to cherrypick data, selectively citing studies that support his position, offers no alternative strategy to promote smoking cessation and concludes with the trope that “consumers are capable of, and responsible for, shaping their own lives”.

If graphic warnings are so ineffective, I wonder why the tobacco industry is so opposed to their implementation. I also wonder why the World Health Organisation has seen fit to endorse graphic warnings as part of public health anti-smoking campaigns.

Rather than refer to carefully chosen studies that support my contrarian worldview, I can rely on all-encompassing, systematic reviews of all studies on this topic. The most recent review I could find was published in Tobacco Control (an imprint of the British Medical Journal) two years ago, analysing the cumulative data of 94 separate scientific studies.

The author found that, overall, graphic warnings can lead to increased rates of smoking cessation and may lead to reduced take-up of cigarette smoking among non-smokers. There is no evidence that these pictures lead to increased initiation of smoking. – Is mise,


Bloomfield Park,

Donnybrook, Dublin 4.