Tobacco packing warning messages will soon appear in Ukraine.

On October 4, the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers, requiring manufacturers and importers of tobacco products to publish on the packages an image to warn of the dangers of smoking, came into force.

First, the Healthcare Ministry presented the Cabinet of Ministers 37 images, widely used by manufacturers of tobacco products in the EU. Those, in particular, were the images of a man’s corpse, neck and throat affected by cancer and children in clouds of tobacco smoke.

According to the Ministry, as a result the Cabinet approved ten the most neutral pictures. Among them - the X-ray images of lung affected by cancer, a woman's face next to the skull, a woman with an empty baby carriage.

The market operators assure that the need to publish the graphic images on cigarette packs will not increase the cost of tobacco products. However, manufacturers have suffered occasional losses.
The Healthcare Ministry found it difficult to predict when cigarettes packs with such pictures will appear in retail stores.

ForUm has decided to ask experts, doctors, politicians and activists for smokers' rights to find out whether these horror pictures will scare off Ukrainian smokers:

Tetyana Bakhteyeva, Ph.D. in medical sciences, honored doctor of Ukraine, head of the parliamentary committee on healthcare:

- According to the statistics, there 9 million smokers in Ukraine, and 12 million people have cardiovascular disease files. The share of cardiovascular diseases in the death rate makes 65%, meaning this is one of the most significant risk factors. Smoking causes ischemic diseases, heart failure. According to American researches, if a person experienced a heart attack and did not quit smoking his chances to experience the second heart attack make 80%. Besides, don't forget about oncology. 

The fight is now focused on limitation of possibilities for smokers. Every fourth or fifth child of 12-15 years starts smoking. At first, we fought this phenomenon increasing excise duty. Before it was 36 kopeks and now is 3 hrn 48 kop per a pack. We have ratified all international treaties. According to the requirements, 50% of the pack must be covered with warning picture. We are taking all possible measure to make Ukrainian follow healthy lifestyle, as according to the statistics, the lifespan of Ukrainians is 14 years less than the one of Europeans.

Yuri Paliychuk, activist for smokers' rights:

- I don't understand what they want to obtain with these pictures. I don't understand why the government follow the calls of anti-tobacco organizations, as it is clear what they want. The world practice proves that such pictures do not reduce the number of smokers.

In August 2012, the Appeal Court of Washington made a decision to oblige the US government to omit the claim to tobacco companies to put warning pictures on cigarette packs, as no studies have proved such pictures bring any use. And this is the practice of the United States, which fight against everything possible: cholesterol, sugar, coca-cola. The US admits such things are not effective.

We have analyzed which countries follow this practice. Among the civilized states, I can name only Canada and Australia. The rest includes Asian countries, Latin America, Egypt, Thailand, Uruguay, Kirgizia, Kazakhstan - countries staying in the civilization hole.

Anatoly Chuprikov, Ph.D. of medical sciences, professor of child psychiatry department of the Kyiv Shupik's medical academy of post-graduate education:

- These pictures won't bring much effect. Smokers suffer the so-called "tobaccoism" and need more serious treatment than scary pictures and words. I wish they promoted healthy lifestyle with the same energy and frequency as they promote strong drinks and beer. And it must be at the highest state level. For example, the American President comes to Ukraine with a visit and jogs in a park. This is how I understand proper promotion of healthy lifestyle. I wish our MPs and state administration promoted health.

Taras Chornovil, MP of Ukraine (non-factional):

- They do it to accompany others. There are unions, which lobby financing of similar actions against smoking. Will it bring any effect? I doubt it. I don't see any problem in scary pictures. I am sure they won't impress anyone.

If the government's logic works, I will applaud them. But such practice has not shown any results in the world so far. They conducted surveys in Thailand but according to the statistics, the number of smokers has not decreased. There is an example of Canada, where they also printed scary pictures. There were certain improvements registered, but again there were also accusations that the survey results were altered. In fact, the number of smokers decreased when the state program on promotion of healthy lifestyle was launched. The program included opening of free of charge gyms and play fields.

Nobody here has actually studied the initiative and what effect it might bring. Is there a possibility that it will push people to challenge the prohibition? Can it push people to react against?

Oleh Pokalchuk, social psychologist:

- It is a tribute to European fashion. But the fact is that all our Europeanism does not result into something rational, but remains a mere copying of a monkey. I don't think the picture will impress Ukrainian smokers. In Europe, a scary picture on a pack of cigarettes amid social prosperity might bring some effect, but the same picture amid Ukrainian reality will hardly stop someone.

Ukrainians are difficult to scare off. We've seen and been through such things Europe has never seen in the most scary nightmare. You cannot scary us with a picture of rotten guts. Just go to a village! This is a good intention, but it is a European model, not adapted for us. If we did care about the level of healthcare and healthy lifestyle, this idea might work.

The prohibition ahs never worked in Ukraine. The prohibited becomes desirable. If you do want to reduce the number of smokers, build free sport complexes and people will make their choice. Now, the choice between vodka and cigarettes is not really a choice.

Artem Bidenko, head of the Outdoor advertising association:

- Believing that scary pictures will make people quit smoking is like believing that smiling faces on book's pictures will make people read more. Smoking is a habit, formed within social environment, and depends not on pictures, advertisement or James Bond movies, but on the environment, children are growing up in. The thought that the ban on advertisement or placement of warning pictures can protect children from smoking is ridiculous and far from reality. No picture on a cigarette pack will stop teens from smoking, as they buy cigarettes by the piece somewhere on authorized market.

The fight against smoking must include social advertisement, work with parents, rehabilitation centers and so on. In the whole world, such practice is accompanied with ban on tobacco ads and printing warning pictures. Pictures alone will make no difference. It has been proven that only effective state social policy can reduce the number of smokers.


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