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Djibouti Implements Strong Pictorial Health Warning Labels to Meet Public Demand for Information
Date : 31 August 2012

Due to growing demand for information about the health harms of tobacco, the tobacco control unit within Djibouti’s Ministry of Health faced many challenges, including the high costs of producing informational materials and launching large-scale education and communication efforts. To bring health information directly to the public at the lowest possible cost and align with WHO FCTC requirements, the country chose to implement strong health warning labels on tobacco packaging. With the support of international tobacco control experts and in-country organizations, a variety of warning label images was pre-tested. Ultimately, 11 different labels were selected that feature powerful images intended to raise awareness among smokers of both the health hazards to themselves and the risks of second-hand tobacco smoke exposure to others.

Additionally, despite tobacco industry objections, Djibouti mandated pictorial labels covering 50% of both the front and back of packages, as well as health messages on the package sides.

The health warnings were implemented in 2009, at no cost to the country’s government. Monitoring the impact of these new labels demonstrated that the labels were effective: within the first year, sales of tobacco products incorporating “strong” images on pack warning labels were substantially lower than sales of products containing “softer” images.

As a result, Djibouti has proposed a new series of even stronger warning label images to begin in 2012. There is no requirement for health warning labels on tobacco products used for water pipe smoking; an increase in water pipe use indicates a need to expand warning labels to these products.


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