You don’t need to be a smoker to be struck by the graphic warning labels on cigarette packaging in some countries, which can include photos of cancer-ridden organs, rotting teeth and limbs, and bulging eyeballs.
Currently, around 50 countries across the world – including Australia and many Asian countries – feature such warning labels on their cigarette boxes and cartons.
In 2016, the Czech Republic and other countries across the EU are set to join them, reports local server iDnes.cz.
A new directive from the European Commission that requires all cigarette packaging to include graphic warning labels will come into effect from May 2016.
The Commission has prepared a series of 40 photographs – many depicting the gruesome effects of smoking – for member states to choose from.
According to iDnes, the Czech Ministry of Agriculture has currently chosen three such photos to include. The price of cigarettes is expected to rise to reflect the cost of implementing the new labels, which is estimated at 250 million CZK.
Across the EU, the current text-only warning labels occupy 30-40% of the front and back of cigarette packages. The new regulations will increase that space to 65%.
In addition, regulations banning flavored cigarettes designed to appeal to young women and girls – including the most popular among them, menthols – are expected to be phased in within the next few years.
There is some dispute over the effectiveness of such images on cigarette packaging. In 2014, the United States Court of Appeals rejected the FDA’s motion to use graphic warning labels, citing a lack of evidence that they would be successful in reducing the number of smokers.
Also that year, Phillip Morris sued Uruguay over the use of graphic warnings on cigarette labels, claiming a violation of intellectual property rights.
Some have even argued that the graphic warning labels may lead to the opposite effect as intended, resulting in more aggressive ignorance of, or desensitization to, standard warning labels.