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It’s time for the United States to have pictorial warnings on cigarettes

Pictorial warnings are often posted on cigarette packages sold in other nations.

Pictorial warnings are often posted on cigarette packages sold in other nations.

More than 100 nations include graphic warnings on cigarette packs and tobacco products.  Large, pictorial warnings have been shown to be effective in discouraging smoking and educating individuals about the harms of tobacco.  Social workers should be aware that the World Health Organization endorses graphic warnings and notes that they have a particular impact to “reduce the number of children who begin smoking and increase the number of smokers who quit.”

In a recent report by the Canadian Cancer Society, the United States ranks the lowest among 205 countries evaluated in terms of the visibility of graphic warnings. Nepal, India, Thailand, Australia, Uruguay and Canada are among the top ten countries; tobacco packaging in these countries includes pictorial warning that cover at least 75 percent of the package on both the back and front.

In 2009, a law mandated that the United States include pictorial warnings on cigarettes, but in 2011 a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected images that were proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Since that time, the FDA expressed intent to issue revised warnings, and has yet to do so. In October 2016, several national organizations and pediatricians filed suit in federal court against the FDA.  The groups include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and others.  For more information, please visit the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Social workers can impact the health of clients and families by promoting smoking cessation efforts.  Additional resources are available at:

CDC Tips From Former Smokers

The Truth Initiative

Campaign for Tobacco- Free Kids

Smoking Cessation Leadership Center

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

By NASW Senior Practice Associate Carrie Dorn, LMSW, MPA

 

 

4 comments

  1. Thank you for posting the link to the JAMA article. It’s sad that the studies resulted in a lower power to warrant statistical significance in motivating smokers toward tobacco cessation. It’s noted the WHO recommends but does not require countries to post pictorial warnings on tobacco products. I am hopeful this recommendation will keep young people from starting tobacco use and motivate casual smokers to quit.

    More Clinical Social Workers need to become Certified Tobacco Cessation specialists to use Motivational Interviewing to help our clients achieve better health outcomes. This may be an innovation in clinical practice that will demonstrate positive quantitative results to promote our profession.

  2. Thank you for posting the link to the JAMA article. It’s sad that the studies resulted in a lower power to warrant statistical significance in motivating smokers toward tobacco cessation. It’s noted the WHO recommends but does not require countries to post pictorial warnings on tobacco products. I am hopeful this recommendation will keep young people from starting tobacco use and motivate casual smokers to quit.

    More Clinical Social Workers need to become Certified Tobacco Cessation specialists to use Motivational Interviewing to help our clients achieve better health outcomes. This may be an innovation in clinical practice that will demonstrate positive quantitative results to promote our profession.

  3. Elsie Virginia Ruiz

    Growing up as a child witching the marketing and the intensive and attractive packaging behind cigarettes my father a respiratory therapist took the time to show me in his office what a healthy lung and an unhealthy lung looked like and that left me an impact for life along with an awareness of the harms caused by tobaccoe products. Take action now and make a difference.

  4. Upcoming Webinar Exclusively for NASW Sections Members
    Integrating Smoking Cessation into Clinical Social Work Practice
    Thursday, February 2, 2017
    1:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET
    Credit Hours: 1.5 CEU(s)
    Section members can register online at: http://www.socialworkers.org/sections/

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