Graphic warn­ings ap­pear to be work­ing

Central and North Burnett Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

SMOK­ERS are be­ing con­fronted by im­ages of the ef­fects of smok­ing cigarettes.

Quit­line ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Fiona Sharkie said calls had in­creased for the first time, since plain pack­ag­ing laws came into ef­fect last month. But non-smok­ers are also fac­ing the dis­turb­ing im­ages.

Be­cause brand de­tails on packs are now more dif­fi­cult to see, shop as­sis­tants are look­ing closely tomake sure they are giv­ing cus­tomers what they have asked for.

Mun­dub­bera shop as­sis­tant Jess Allen said she thought the im­ages were “dis­gust­ing”.

“And I have to look at them con­stantly,” she said.

While some re­tail­ers be­lieve the new pack­ag­ing may re­duce smok­ing, most are un­sure and will wait to see.

“Peo­ple who in­tend to keep smok­ing but who are of­fended by the im­ages are tak­ing other steps to avoid see­ing them,” Mrs Allen said. “One cus­tomer told me she saved an old packet and trans­fers the cigarettes from the new packs into the old one.”

Ms Sharkie said she was not con­cerned by re­ports of smok­ers us­ing Post-It notes, mask­ing tape and even Band-Aids to cover the graphic warn­ings, which are three times larger than on the pre­vi­ous packs.

“We are hear­ing of a lot of avoid­ance be­hav­iour,” she said.

“But that doesn’t mean they’re not work­ing. The fact that peo­ple go to the trou­ble to not see it is a very pos­i­tive thing from our per­spec­tive.”

The new packs are olive green. They are free from lo­gos and 75% of the front is cov­ered by a graphic health warn­ing.

The Can­cer Coun­cil of Aus­tralia be­lieves they’ll save lives.

Team leader To­bacco Pro­grams Rachel Hull said 20 years of re­search re­vealed slick to­bacco pack­ag­ing was par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful for at­tract­ing young peo­ple.

“In­ter­na­tional and Aus­tralian ev­i­dence shows the look and feel of a cig­a­rette packet has a strong in­flu­ence on the buy­ing in­ten­tions of young peo­ple,” she said. “This is a win for the long-term health of young Aus­tralians, as it has the po­ten­tial to re­duce the num­bers of young peo­ple who take up smok­ing.”

Can­cer Coun­cil Queens­land be­lieves the loss of lo­gos, colours and flashy brands will pre­vent peo­ple tak­ing up the habit, and may en­cour­age es­tab­lished smok­ers to quit.

Any­one seek­ing in­for­ma­tion can call Quit­line 13 QUIT (137 848).

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