01.05.2012 New images to combat the force of habit

Tobacco prevention. The second series of combined verbal and pictorial warnings have been printed on packs of tobacco products since 1 January 2012.

Pictures New images to combat the force of habit


The psychology of perception has taught us that pictures attract more attention than words and the new attracts more attention than the familiar. Since 2010, the previous purely verbal warnings on the packaging of tobacco products have had to be reinforced with images and a reference to the smoking quitline (0848 000 181). In addition, the topics of the pictorial and verbal warnings have to be changed every two years in order to revive interest in the messages. The second series of “combined” warnings has now had to be used since January 2012. It consists of 14 pictures and verbal messages on the topics of addiction, premature death, protection of children and the unborn, and support for people trying to quit smoking. The warnings on packs of tobacco products must take up at least 35 per cent of the front side and 50 per cent of the back. The aim of this measure is to ensure that smokers are better informed on the risks of tobacco consumption and are motivated to quit smoking. In addition, it should also stop non-smokers from starting to smoke.

Well accepted
The Swiss Tobacco Monitoring Survey has been investigating the effectiveness of the warnings since 2006. The report published in October 2011 on this topic showed that 61 per cent of the Swiss population rated the pictorial warnings as “good” to “very good”. As early as 2009, i.e. before the pictorial warnings were made mandatory (during the introductory phase), half of those surveyed stated that they had already seen the pictures. When they were made mandatory in 2010, the recognition factor rose to 76 per cent. However, neither smokers nor non-smokers believed that the pictures could persuade someone to give up smoking. On the other hand, most of those surveyed thought that the picture could strengthen non-smokers in their resolve not to take up the habit. When the reference to the smoking quitline became mandatory in 2010, its recognition factor rose from 34 per cent in 2006 to 47 per cent in 2010. Prior to 2010 the reference had been printed only on every 14th pack.


Michael Anderegg, Consumer Protection Directorate, michael.anderegg@bag.admin.ch

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