South Korea has changed the graphic warnings on cigarette packs in the latest move to curb smoking, the health ministry said Sunday.
In 2016, South Korea required tobacco companies to put the pictorial warnings on the upper part of both sides of cigarette packs as part of anti-smoking campaigns to help reduce smoking. The photos are required to cover more than 30 percent of both sides of a packet.
The government changes the graphic warnings every 24 months as part of its efforts to raise awareness of the side effects of smoking, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The World Health Organization also advises either changing or revising pictorial warnings periodically, according to health officials.
The ministry said 12 new pictorial warnings will be placed on cigarette packs, including the electronic tobacco heating device called iQOS.
The ministry forecasts cigarettes with the new warning photos to hit local shelves sometime in January.
The new graphic images show smokers suffering from fatal ailments, such as lung cancer, oral cancer, laryngeal cancer, heart attack and stroke, while also carrying warnings about serious side effects, such as the dangers of secondhand smoke, sexual dysfunction and premature death, according to the ministry.
The new graphic images also include tooth discoloration, the ministry said.
The smoking rate for South Korean men aged 19 and older was 20.3 percent in 2018, down from 20.8 percent in 2016, according to government data.
Separate data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) put the smoking rate of South Korean men aged 15 and older at 31 percent in 2015, the highest among 15 OECD countries surveyed. Japan came in second with 30 percent, followed by Italy with 25 percent. (yonhap)