GCC to make graphic warnings on cigarette packs mandatory

November 15, 2011

Graphic warning labels on cigarette packets will be made mandatory within five months in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries where four million smokers consume 50 billion cigarettes a year.

Dr Mohammad Bin Saif Al Kuwari, undersecretary of Qatar’s environment ministry, said that that the GCC states were moving ahead with preparations to implement the new specifications for tobacco products despite the stiff resistance from cigarette manufacturers.

Infected jaws

Under the new standards, the manufacturers will be required to add graphic images, such as damaged lungs or infected jaws, on cigarette packets to warn consumers about the hazards of smoking.

Such images should go along with the written warnings and should be big enough to cover at least 30 per cent of the space on the packet, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported on Tuesday.

More than 40 countries, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Thailand and Malaysia, have already put graphic warnings on cigarette packets as part of their anti-smoking campaign. The US is planning to introduce it by the autumn of 2012.

The move has triggered a controversy worldwide with cigarette manufacturers claiming that such “horrific” pictures would affect their sales. Several court cases have been filed in the US and many other countries by the manufacturers against the decision.

Al Kuwari said the GCC decision has been resisted by the manufacturers who had requested to reduce the size of the graphic images to 5 per cent instead of the 30 per cent.


“The GCC health authorities have refused this proposal because the new specifications are considered as an effective way to fight smoking,” Al Kuwari said.

The new GCC specifications had already been forwarded to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and several European countries.

“The GCC states had given one year time to the manufacturers to comply with the new specifications. Seven months have already passed and the decision will be implemented within the next five months,” Al Kuwari said.

80,000 Qataris smoke

According to official statistics, the number of smokers in Qatar is estimated to be 80,000. Each smoker in Qatar consumes an average of 12,000 cigarettes a year.

“There are 150,000 new smokers in the region every year while about 30,000 people die in the region every year due to diseases directly linked with smoking,” Al Kuwari said.





About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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