Shocking images of tumours and blackened lungs await EU smokers

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Shocking pictures of blackened lungs, rotten teeth, throat tumours and corpses in hospital morgues were unveiled yesterday, as the European Commission called for the images to be used on cigarette packets in all EU countries.

Shocking pictures of blackened lungs, rotten teeth, throat tumours and corpses in hospital morgues were unveiled yesterday, as the European Commission called for the images to be used on cigarette packets in all EU countries.

The library of 42 pictures, that will begin appearing on packs from next year, range from the graphic to the humorous, and highlight the effects of smoking, from cancer to impotence. Unlike the written health warnings, the pictures need not be made compulsory throughout the EU. Each government will decide whether to force cigarette companies to use them, and Ireland and Belgium have already promised to do so.

But the move is a significant heightening of the EU anti-smoking campaign and young people are targeted in an effort to persuade them not to take up the habit. One picture depicts a cigarette as a syringe, illustrating the addictive nature of the habit, another points out the ageing effect on skin. The images also highlight the risk to fertility, through a picture of a woman wheeling an empty baby carriage, and of impotence by showing a drooping cigarette.

David Byrne, the outgoing European Commissioner for health and consumer protection, also announced a €72m (£50m) anti-smoking publicity campaign. He argued: "People need to be shocked out of their complacency about tobacco.

"The true face of smoking is disease, death and horror - not the glamour and sophistication the pushers in the tobacco industry try to portray."

Mr Byrne said he "strongly urged all member states to use these", a call which was backed by Chris Davies, leader of the British Liberal Democrat MEPs. He pressed the British government, which is consulting on the issue, to make tobacco firms use the images.

Mr Davies argued: "We have to break the impression among teenagers that smoking is cool and sexy - and I can think of few things more likely to be effective than illustrating the proven risk that tobacco use leads to reduced male sexual potency."

EU member states use 14 written health warnings which must cover at least a third of the packaging of cigarettes. Picture warnings are already a familiar sight in Brazil and Canada. Canadian research into the value of such illustrations revealed a 44 per cent increase in smoker motivation to quit.

But Simon Clark, director of the UK smokers' rights group Forest, said: "Smokers are well aware of the health risks of smoking. All that is needed is a simple, written warning advising people about the possible health risks of smoking. Anything else is gratuitously offensive and yet another example of smokers being singled out."

According to the Commission, tobacco kills more than 650,000 people a year in the EU, at a cost of €100bn per annum. The EU has agreed to outlaw newspaper, magazine, radio and internet tobacco advertising from June 2005, when it will also stop cigarette firms from sponsoring events such as Formula One racing. Ireland and Malta have banned smoking in restaurants and bars, and Sweden plans a similar prohibition next year.

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