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Public Health (01-02-2007)

Commissioner Kyprianou opens exhibition on tobacco picture warnings

On January 31, Commissioner for Health Markos Kyprianou opened an exhibition and seminar on the "Power of Communications against Tobacco" in Brussels. The exhibition was organised by the European Cancer Leagues and the International Diabetes Foundation, with the support of the European Parliament and the Belgian government.
 
The exhibition aims to highlight the importance of communications campaigns in the fight against tobacco, and comes ahead of the introduction of picture warnings on all tobacco products in Belgium in July 2007. Belgium will be the first EU Member State to introduce this obligation.
 
Mr Kyprianou congratulated the Belgian government for its decision to use picture warning labels: "Pictures help smokers to visualise the nature of tobacco related diseases and convey health messages in a clearer way," he said.
Large written warnings on tobacco products, such as "Smoking Kills", have been obligatory since the introduction of the Tobacco Products Directive in 2002. In 2005, the Commission adopted a series of 42 images that Member States could choose to introduce on cigarette packs in their countries. A number of other Member States have also expressed their intention to use them.
 
Mr Kyprianou described the success of the new large text health warnings: "Their prominent location on tobacco packs means that smokers and potential smokers are confronted with the warning each and every time they decide to purchase or smoke a tobacco product." He added, however, that these messages need to be renewed to avoid "exposure fatigue". 
 
The exhibition comes the day after the European Commission launched a public consultation on the best way to promote smoke-free environments. The consultation asks for views on national tobacco prevention policies and on the best way forward at European level. It will be open until May 1 2007.
 
The exhibition will be held in the Bibliotheque Solvay in Brussels until February 2 and will be devoted to displays of picture warnings for tobacco products.
 
For more information on the consultation on Smoke-Free Environments: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/life_style/Tobacco/tobacco_en.htm