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Director of Health Promotion and Protection at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Eva Fuller, says that the Ministry has been working with various entities to get the CARICOM labelling standards revised to require graphics in messages on cigarette boxes.
“Studies have shown that they do work, (graphics) they do deter people, persons who have already started smoking; it increases the quit rate and, we can prevent a significant proportion from starting by influencing their behaviour through graphic health warning,” Dr. Fuller said.
She was speaking at a World No Tobacco Day rap session at the Ministry’s King Street office, downtown Kingston, Friday (May 29).
She also stated that some 12 countries have already started using graphic health warnings on cigarette boxes and that Jamaica will be emulating those countries, “because those countries are really going fully in keeping with the framework convention on tobacco control which we are a signatory to.”
“We are hoping that we will have the graphics ready, but we have been having some challenges which have kept us back. But, what we have been doing is looking at the graphics of other countries and requesting permission to waive their copyright for us to use them for a specified period of time,” Dr. Fuller said.
“They have been fairly generous so far, so we won’t have to start from scratch in producing graphics, but we might have to tweak the graphics that we borrow and change them to look more like us, ethnically, and be more culturally accepted,” she added.
Dr. Fuller also said that, by early next year, the Ministry should be able to use graphical messages on cigarette boxes and packages.
Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, in a message read by Director of Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Sonia Copeland, noted that pictorial warnings are an extremely cost effective public health measure for Governments but, more importantly, a powerful medium for communicating public health messages.
“Pictorial warnings are crucial in communicating health risks to a large number of persons who cannot read and, when added to text, is particularly effective in motivating behavioural change,” Mr. Spencer said.
The Minister also stated that it is the Ministry’s quest to make Jamaica and, by extension the region, tobacco free.
He also encouraged Jamaicans to read the bold text warnings that have been placed on cigarette packages for the past two years, and to look out for the graphic health warnings to come.
“Your help is needed in reaffirming the importance of health warnings. It continues to be the pledge of this Government, and the collaborative effort of other Governments and organisations, to intensify our unrelenting attack on tobacco and its ravaging effects on society. Together we can safeguard a clean and healthy future for all,” Mr. Spencer said.

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