Woman claims photo of her dying father is used on cigarette packet warning without permission

“It is horrific to see my dad who has just passed away on a fag packet. It is morally wrong and extremely distressing for the whole family”

Rachel Hosie
Monday 24 April 2017 13:42 BST

A 42-year-old woman from Essex has been left shocked after finding a cigarette packet featuring a picture which she believes is of her late father in hospital.

Mother-of-two Jodi Charles, who lives in Purfleet, says she is “110 per cent sure” the man in the warning picture is her father, David Ross, who died in 2015.

Both the EU Commission and Basildon University Hospital, where Ross was on life support in intensive care, however, deny the claim.


“Any similarity is purely coincidental,” the Commission have said, and the hospital have said their staff would never have taken such a photo.

The warning image - one of 42 used on cigarette packets to discourage smoking - shows a man unconscious in a hospital bed with a breathing tube in his mouth.

Ross died aged 66 after suffering from bone marrow problems, septicaemia and lymphoma - he was a smoker, but his death wasn’t related. He spent ten months in the hospital and Charles believes that was when the photo must have been taken.

Had she been asked, Charles says there’s “no way” she’d have given her permission for the photo to be used.

“My friend who smokes tobacco came round on Tuesday and my 14-year-old daughter picked up the wrapper,” Charles said. “She ran into the room and said, ‘Look, it’s granddad!’”

“When I saw that photo, I just said, ‘Oh my God.’ I just knew without any doubt that it was dad. I was horrified.”

Charles showed the packet to her mother - Ross’s wife - who also believes it’s him.

“I cut my dad’s hair for 20 years, I know exactly how his hairline was, exactly where it sticks up a little,” Charles told consumer website A Spokesman Said. “I also cut his eyebrows and know all the tiny details of his face.

“The whole picture looks exactly like him. His eyes were puffed up when he was in intensive care and they are in the photo too.

“I am 110 per cent sure it is him and that there is no way he gave permission for such a terrible picture to be used. It’s terribly upsetting.

“This has been a horrendous time for us. Dad being ill took up my whole life and I am still grieving now – I will be forevermore.

“As time goes on you learn to deal with it, but this has brought it all back. I’m distraught again.”

In response, the EU said it “cannot give out further information on their identity in order to protect the rights of the individuals depicted”.

Charles and her father 

A European Commission spokesman said: “We are very sorry for the distress caused to this young lady who believes that her father is depicted in this health warning.

“However, having checked the details of her father against the identity of the person depicted, we can categorically state that the person in this picture is not David Ross.

“May we take this opportunity to emphasise that all individuals depicted in the library of picture warnings were informed and gave their consent. Any similarity with other individuals is purely coincidental.”

A hospital spokeswoman added: “There are only two departments which take photos – communications, for charity events and that sort of thing, and medical photography.

“Neither of those departments have forwarded any photos to the photo library.”

Bu Charles is adamant that the photo is her late father: “If it isn’t him, I want proof of that, and of the fact that he signed to say that they could do this.

“If they don’t give me that, I’m going to sue them. It is horrific to see my dad who has just passed away on a fag packet. It is morally wrong and extremely distressing for the whole family.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in