Few research studies have explicitly examined whether warnings placed on the “top” of packs are more effective; however, logic and anecdotal evidence suggests this is the case. This is particularly true at the point of sale, where shelving units often obscure the bottom of the package and, any warnings that appear on the bottom of packages make it less noticeable. Warnings that appear only on the back side of packages, such as in Brazil, are also obscured at the point of sale and less visible to the public as a result.
Current International Best Practice
The majority, but not all, of the countries that require pictorial warnings require that they be positioned at the top of packages, as recommended in the Guidelines. Countries such as Uruguay require large warnings to be displayed at the top of the front and back of packages. ASEAN countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei also require pictorial warnings to appear at the top of the front and back of packages. Several countries have used the front and back of the pack to communicate different types of information. For example, Australia uses the back of the pack to include additional information on quitting and more detailed health information, whereas countries such as Canada use different languages on each side of packages.
Several countries, including Canada, Australia, Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia also have legislation that prohibits any packaging elements from obstructing or obscuring health warnings. To date no countries have adopted innovative measures such as requiring health warnings on cigarettes themselves, or directly on the overlap. Recently Australia has progressed to implement plain or generic packaging which will enhance the prominence and effectiveness of health warnings.
Laws and Regulations
Brunei Tobacco Control Labelling Regulations Warnings on Smoked Tobacco Products 2007
Brunei Tobacco Labelling Regulations (Arrangement and Regulations) 2007
Malaysia Control of Tobacco Product Regulations Amendment 2008
Singapore Control of Advertisement and Sale of Tobacco Regulations Amendments 2003
Thailand Ministry of Public Health Notifications No.11 Criteria, Procedures and Conditions for Displaying 2006
Thailand Ministry of Public Health Notifications No.14 Criteria, Procedures and Conditions for Displaying 2007
Thailand Ministry of Public Health Notifications Criteria, Procedures and Conditions for Displaying Labels and Statements on Label of Cigarettes 2009