Thu, May 18, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Gruesome warnings put Singaporeans off their cigarettes

CONTROL Research on Singapore's latest social engineering campaign reveals the government has made inroads into the nation's smoking habit


Images of diseased gums and cancerous lungs along with anti-smoking warnings on cigarette packages have had an effect on smokers in Singapore, a survey said yesterday.

Twenty-eight percent of the 650 smokers queried said they smoked fewer cigarettes and seven in 10 said they knew more about the effects of smoking on health, according to the Health Promotion Board findings.

The participants in the survey, which also included 650 non-smokers, were aged between 18 and 69.

The warnings, introduced in August 2004, carry six images: Diseased gums, a cancerous lung, a dying baby, a brain oozing blood, a patient on his deathbed and a family suffering from second-hand smoke.

They come with such warnings as, "Smoking causes strokes," and "Smoking causes lung cancer."

The average number of callers to the board's Quitline increased from 100 prior to the warnings and images to 300 a month since they were introduced.

Half of the 650 non-smokers said the warnings prompted them to try and get smokers to kick the habit.

A new set of warnings is currently being tested with a panel of smokers.

Singapore has tough anti-smoking laws. Smoking and tobacco advertising are banned in enclosed areas and tobacco is heavily taxed.

Starting in July, coffee shops and hawker centers will only be allowed small smoking zones.

By next year, entertainment outlets, including bars and clubs, will also have to limit smoking to designated spaces.

Singapore has an international reputation for social engineering, and keeps a close check on an array of public activities.

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