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I wrote this headline earlier this month after the US announced more graphic designs for cigarette and other tobacco packaging and had intended to come back to it. I also started writing another post on a recent issue of The Lancet that covered various global studies on tobacco use. That’ll come at a later date. This month has been busy for me, and I hope to continue to post regularly. A lot is going on in public health that affects regional policies, including the recent International AIDS Society conference and the upcoming UN High Level Meeting on NCDs. I’ll try my best to bring more information about these events.

In the meantime, back to  what this post was meant to be about…what impact, if any, do graphic labels on cigaret and other tobacco products has on its use? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the regulatory agency for tobacco advertising, will begin requiring these images next year. Now, tobacco use has not been a mjpr issue among Caribbean youths. However, studies show behavior change once many people migrate to the United States. For the Unites States, this is

“a significant advancement in communicating the dangers of smoking.”

Now, having lived in Europe, I am used to seeing these images and oftentimes, their advertising go much further than the US ever will. However this is a start, as much of our merchandise from the region, including tobacco products, comes from US distributors.

In addition to the graphic images, more research is showing the impact of global mass media campaign:

“more than 1.9 billion people live in the 23 countries that have implemented at least one strong campaign within the last two years”

According to the WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2011. “We are pleased that more and more people are being adequately warned about the dangers of tobacco use,” says WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, Dr Ala Alwan. “At the same time, we can’t be satisfied that the majority of countries are doing nothing or not enough. We urge all countries to follow the best-practices for reducing tobacco consumption and to become Parties to, and fully implement, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”

What activities does your country engage in to reduce tobacco use? Do you see graphic images on packaging in your country? In your opinion, what impact does it have on reducing tobacco use? Do you anticipate these labels making their way to the Caribbean? How can our local governments and regional public health agencies prevent the uptake of smoking and other tobacco use among Caribbean people?

Source: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2011/tobacco_20110707/en/index.html

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