Packs of Lies
Story by Salma Warshanna-Sparklin • Photography by Chris Myers
It took “a herculean effort” on the part of researchers and global partners to scour store shelves in 14 low- and middle-income countries and collect 3,000-plus tobacco product packs—all in 2013—says Katherine Clegg Smith, PhD. She has led the Tobacco Pack Surveillance System (TPackSS) project to assess compliance with health warning laws and detractive design elements. “It’s incredible what can be communicated on a pack,” she says.
Flashy zebra print and a hot pink camel distract from the graphic warning linking smoking to breast cancer. (Mexico)
Dance imagery and the misleading descriptor "mild" may downplay the risks of starting to smoke. (Indonesia)
The Kiss pack has a bright, floral design that may mask the harmfulness of the tobacco product. (Russia)
Large pictorial warnings are more effective in reducing tobacco use than black and white text-only messages, according to WHO. (Russia)
Pandas, a symbol of Chinese culture, are pictured on Pride packs. Current laws allow warnings to blend into design. (China)
In Turkey, warning labels must make up 65% of the front side. Here, consumers are cautioned about impotence linked with smoking. (Turkey)
Playing to Western aspirations, 80-100% of packs gathered in 5 non-English speaking countries used English text. (Brazil)
Courtesy of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control.
More from this Collection: globaltobaccocontrol.org/tpackss