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The Finance Ministry will order tobacco companies to print stricter health warnings on cigarette packs beginning in July 2005, a ministry official said Friday.

Packs of cigarettes whose names feature words such as “mild” or “light” must also clarify that the products do not pose fewer health hazards, the official said.

The move, the first in 14 years, follows May’s adoption of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by member states of the World Health Organization. It brings Japan in line with other countries in which smokers are warned about the health risks associated with smoking.

A ministerial ordinance will be revised within the month to put the changes into effect, according to the official.

Eight new messages will warn of specific illnesses that result from smoking, including lung cancer and cardiac infarction.

Under current rules, tobacco firms are only required to print that smokers “should be careful of smoking too much because it can be harmful to your health.”

Tobacco companies will choose to display one or two of the eight new messages. It will be mandatory for the messages to appear over 30 percent of the surface of a cigarette pack.

Japan has one of the highest smoking rates in the industrialized world, with nearly one in three Japanese claiming to be a smoker, according to industry data.

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