International Issues

Warning Labels

"Health warnings on tobacco product packaging are critical to any effective tobacco control strategy. They increase public awareness of the serious health risks of tobacco use and help to ensure that the packaging tells the truth about the deadly product within."
— Showing the truth, saving lives: the case for pictorial health warnings, WHO 2009

"Showing the truth, saving lives"

Large, picture-based health warning labels on tobacco packages are an essential component of a national strategy to reduce tobacco use.

Tobacco companies depend on package design to build brand recognition and promote sales. Packaging establishes brand imagery that is often completely opposite to the realities and dangers associated with tobacco product use.

Control over tobacco packaging is critical to tobacco control efforts. Tobacco packs can effectively broadcast messages about the harmful impact of tobacco use.

Research shows that effective warning labels increase knowledge about risks associated with smoking and can influence future decisions about smoking. Large and graphic warning labels can motivate smokers to quit, discourage nonsmokers from starting, and keep ex-smokers from starting again.

Studies have also found that warning labels are most effective at communicating the health risks of tobacco use when they contain both pictures and words and are large and in color. Warning labels also must be rotated periodically to avoid over exposure.

Article 11 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires Parties to the treaty to adopt and implement large, clear, and rotating health warnings on all tobacco products within three years of FCTC ratification.

Pictorial Warning Labels by Country and Jurisdiction

Argentina
Australia
Bahrain
Belgium
Bolivia
Brazil
Brunei Darussalam
Burkina Faso
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
El Salvador
European Union
Fiji
France
Guernsey
Denmark
Djibouti
Ecuador
Egypt
Gulf Cooperation Council
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Iran
Ireland
Jamaica
Jersey
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kuwait
Latvia
Macau

Madagascar
Malaysia
Malta
Mauritius
Mexico
Mongolia
Nepal
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Panama
Peru
Qatar
Romania
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Seychelles
Singapore
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
Ukraine
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yemen