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Seoul mulls enlarging cigarette warning photos

2018/05/15 14:53

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SEOUL, May 15 (Yonhap) -- The health ministry is considering a move to enlarge the size of graphic warnings on cigarette packs, officials said Tuesday, a move aimed at discouraging people from smoking.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it is checking the option that would send a stronger message to smokers. At present, the size of the warning photos must cover more than 30 percent of both sides of a cigarette packet.

In 2016, South Korea required tobacco companies to put pictorial warnings on the upper part of both sides of a cigarette pack, with the graphic images being changed every 24 months as part of its efforts to maintain awareness of the side effects of smoking.

Currently, 105 countries have adopted such pictorial warnings, with 43 of them mandating over 65 percent of tobacco packets to be covered by the disturbing pictures that depict the serious consequences of smoking.

The ministry said it is also reviewing a plan to adopt the "plain packaging" system, which mandates the size and design of all tobacco packets sold on the market be the same.

The smoking rate for South Korean men aged 19 and older was 39.1 percent in 2016, down from 43.3 percent in 2014, according to government data. There was no government data on the smoking rate in 2015.

Separate data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development put the smoking rate of South Korean men aged 15 and older at 31 percent in 2015, the highest among 15 OECD countries surveyed. Japan came in second with 30 percent, followed by Italy with 25 percent.

This photo provided by the Ministry of Health and Welfare shows a pictorial warning for tobacco packs on tooth discoloration, one of the side effects of smoking. (Yonhap) This photo provided by the Ministry of Health and Welfare shows a pictorial warning for tobacco packs on tooth discoloration, one of the side effects of smoking. (Yonhap)

khj@yna.co.kr

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