Uruguay’s tobacco control strategy delivers results

17 Aug 2012

FCA’s regional director for the Americas and president of the Tobacco Epidemic Research Center of Uruguay, Dr Eduardo Bianco, said that Uruguay’s government had taken the lead in Latin America and the world by being the first country to introduce such a comprehensive package of tobacco control policies.

“We are delighted that this study proves these policies are working.  However, the data also underlines that we have further to go to protect smokers and non-smokers in Uruguay,” Dr Bianco said.

The report’s findings are based on three stages of an ITC survey where smokers in Montevideo, Durazno, Maldonado, Rivera and Salto were surveyed from 2006 to 2011.

During this period, Uruguay implemented several important tobacco control policies in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

These policies were:
•    a comprehensive ban on indoor smoking in public places;
•    a ban on tobacco advertising and promotion;
•    several tobacco tax hikes;
•    increasing the size of pictorial warning labels from 50 percent to 80 percent of the front and back of cigarette packs;
•    implementing highly graphic warnings on the health effects of smoking;
•    a ban on multiple brand presentations. 

By comparing data from each wave of the survey in the context of policy changes during the preceding period, researchers measured the impact of those policies on key attitudes and behaviours.

For example, Uruguay introduced graphic health warnings in 2006 but in 2009-10 (between the survey’s stages two and three) health warnings were enhanced with stronger graphic images that were also larger – increasing to 80 percent of the front and back of the pack. This made Uruguay’s warning the largest in the world.

Smokers being surveyed reported that the enhancement made them:
•    more likely to notice the warnings;
•    think about the health risks of smoking more;
•    make them think about quitting.

FCA Director Laurent Huber said the report provided conclusive proof that Uruguay’s pioneering tobacco control policies – particularly withh regard to large, graphic health warnings and bans on multiple brands – were an effective means of reducing tobacco’s appeal.

“These policies are having a positive impact on attitudes and behaviours, and are playing a critical role in ensuring that fewer people fall into the trap of sickness and premature death,” he said.

“We call upon Parties to the FCTC to take note of these results and examine how they might amend their own tobacco control policies to achieve reductions in tobacco use,” added Laurent.

More information

Learn more about: the FCTC: Action now! campaign

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