Horrifying new cigarette graphic warnings revealed

GRAPHIC WARNING: Health warnings on cigarettes are set to become more horrific to prevent Kiwis from smoking danger complacency.

The new graphic health warnings that will have to be printed on cigarette packets have been released.

They will start appearing on packets from March next year.

Australia was the first country in the world to switch to plain-packaging of cigarettes.

New Zealand is following its example, and needed a new set of graphic images to replace those which currently appear on cigarette packs.

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New Zealand cigarette packs will closely resemble the Australian pack designs, including being coloured the same nasty shade of green- Pantone 448C- now widely dubbed the world's ugliest colour.

Smoking remains a habit for around 17 per cent of New Zealanders.

Smoking remains a habit for around 17 per cent of New Zealanders.

Though the term plain-packaging is widely used, the packs smokers will end up with are anything but plain.

What smokers are going to get is an enhanced version of the horror packaging they are already faced with, only with cigarette branding almost entirely removed.

The new set of graphic images include dissected blackened lungs, open-heart surgery, rotting toes, a baby on oxygen, a dying man in a hospital, and a little girl with an oxygen mask over her face.

The government has now released its plain packaging regulations showing it's decided against some measures the tobacco industry lobbied against.

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Cigarette sticks will not be required to be a nasty green, or mustard colour, which some in the anti-smoking lobby wanted.

Nor will each cigarette have text printed on it telling the smoker how many minutes of their life they are puffing away by smoking it.

The government also dropped its plans to have the silver foil, which keeps cigarettes fresh, replaced with a nasty-coloured version, removing the Willy Wonka's golden ticket effect of flipping up the lid of a pack of cigarettes to reveal a flash of shiny silver.

The tobacco industry argued that dying the foil could end up contaminating cigarettes.

Some in the smoke-free lobby had hoped that the regulations would require leaflets on how to quit to be inserted in every packet.

Nick Wilson from Otago University's Department of Public Health said switching to new graphic warnings was long overdue as some of the current ones were not very effective.

"A smart system would change the pictures every couple of years," he said.

Fellow Otago University academic Janet Hoek said a system was needed to bring in new images from time to time to prevent people from becoming "inured" to the current set.

Research showed some kinds of pictures were more effective than others for different groups, she said.

Young people, for example, were more affected by images showing the impact on innocent third parties like children and babies, and less worried by personal damage to their health, as many believed they would have given up before their health was damaged.

Eric Crampton from the New Zealand Initiative think-tank, which is funded by big business including British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, said evidence from Australia showed plain packaging was not having a big effect.

The Chipty report in Australia published last year concluded plain packaging had had an impact on smoking rates.

Crampton said the Ministry of Health had been slow to get its regulations out, and questioned the cost to government for the benefit that plain-packaging would bring.

He also called on the government to move more quickly to legalise e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn devices that are less harmful alternatives to cigarettes.

In a blog in May, Wilson and other health academics said there were other measures New Zealand could adopt to hurry cigarettes into the ashtray of history, including:

* Setting a sinking lid on commercial sales of tobacco, effectively lowering supply each year.
* Every year reducing the number of shops allowed to sell them, particularly in areas with high-risk populations.
* Creating a "smokefree generation" allowing no-one born after a particular year to buy cigarettes.

 - Stuff

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