In the US alone smoking causes an estimated 443,000 deaths annually. In addition, the health risks are not only limited to smokers but they also affect the individuals around these smokers because of the effects of passive smoking. The high death rate associated with smoking has forced the regulatory authorities around the world, to ensure that cigarette packets carry a warning (HILL D. (1988).
Accordingly, the global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has banned all forms of cigarette advertisements and promotions across the world. Therefore, cigarette packaging remains the principle promotional vehicle for manufacturers to spark an interest in smoking. However, in most countries it is mandatory for manufacturers to ensure that cigarette packets carry health warning labels. Written labels such ‘smokers die young’ and ‘smoking clogs the arteries and causes heart attack’ are printed on packets. However, the packet area occupied, general strength and the dimensions of these labels are considerably different in various jurisdictions. The trend of pictorial inclusions with warnings started in Canada in the year 2008. Today, this pictorial inclusion trend has been adopted by more than 28 countries. Paraguay is the country which has the largest pictorial health warnings, amounting to about 60% of the area of a cigarette packet’s front.
FCTC has also proposed the idea of plain packaging of all tobacco products. Plain packaging removes the principle means of advertisement and can prove effective in discouraging future smokers. However, the concept of plain packaging has raised numerous objections from the tobacco manufacturing industries. But governments around the world are reluctant to compromise the health of their citizens and continue to experiment with ways to discourage cigarette smoking (BORLAND et al 2006). Many countries such as Norway, Thailand, Ireland, Iceland and certain regions of Canada have banned the display of cigarettes on Power walls and counter tops due to their high visibility. This ban associated with open display of tobacco products perhaps will lead to increased investment by manufacturers to design more innovative packaging. These creative ‘badge products’ cigarettes are usually interpreted as a maturity and status symbol by teenagers. Inevitably, this leads to reinforcement of attributes which are conjured by the concept of brand images and increase the effectiveness of advertisements. The effectiveness of plain packaging cannot be accurately visualized because plain packaging never materialized. However, an extensive study was conducted in which groups of people were presented with plain cigarette packets. The results were astonishing and the individuals claimed that these cigarettes were boring and did not have the same appeal and flair. The product warnings whether it is pictorial or written, are the most convenient and cost effective way to communicate health risks to consumers. The use of pictorial symbols such as ‘toxic constituent symbol’ on tobacco packaging is also being exercised by regulatory authorities in some European countries (HILLER JE et al (2009). Effectiveness of label warnings: In accordance with the results revealed from extensive studies of various interviews and focus groups it has been interpreted that the potential impact of pictorial warnings is greater than that of