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Mauritius: poorer people like tough warnings

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Another country where health advocates have been researching the acceptability of having a skull and crossbones on cigarette packs, as well as on each individual cigarette, is Mauritius. Health organisation ViSa carried out a detailed survey with people visiting prison inmates, which among other benefits got responses from a sample of the country's less affluent citizens. Both their mocked up packs and cigarettes got highly favourable ratings as to general acceptability, and concurrence with the view that such warnings might help smokers quit and deter those who do not yet smoke from starting. Such ideas would have been unlikely to be taken up by the government in the past when British American Tobacco (BAT), the dominant player in this small country with Africa's highest per capita cigarette consumption, seemed to hold great sway. However, times are changing, and in the face of declining tobacco consumption, BAT recently closed its factory in Mauritius. Perhaps the large sums BAT used to spend on schemes such as its undergraduate scholarship scheme for gifted young people to study at the University of Mauritius may turn out not to have been money well spent.

Figure1
Mauritius: cigarettes marked with a skull and crossbones received overwhelming approval in a survey, even by smokers.
Figure2
Mauritius: a Pall Mall cigarette pack from Thailand and one sold in Mauritius: Mauritian smokers strongly supported the idea of their government adopting Thai-style health warnings.
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