Warnings on cigarette packets about the dangers of tobacco push smokers to kick the habit, while graphic images
depicting human suffering are the most effective, a study shows. Nearly all adult smokers in countries where a World Health Organization (WHO) convention requires health warnings on tobacco products, noticed the warnings, and more than half of smokers in six of 14 countries in the study said the warnings made them think about quitting.
Whereas, in the remaining eight countries, except Poland, more than one in four poll respondents said the warning labels prompted them to consider kicking the habit, the study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.
For the study, researchers analysed data collected between 2008 and 2010 for smokers in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam for a poll called the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.
They found that warnings that are most likely to make someone consider quitting, stand out prominently on the package and use pictures or graphics to describe the harmful effects of smoking. Graphic warnings not only reach smokers who either cannot read or do not read text-only warnings, but could also be better at evoking an emotional response from a smoker, the CDC study says.
The results revealed that Brazil and Thailand both had "numerous prominent and graphic pictorial warnings in rotation" and also had some of the highest rate of smokers thinking of quitting due to the warnings. But it is still unclear why ‘thinking about quitting’ was also high in Bangladesh and Vietnam, where warnings cover less of the package and were text-only.
The CDC also wants to see research how many smokers who think about quitting due to a warning on a packet actually do. It also wants to find other factors that make one stop smoking. According to the WHO, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, and is estimated to kill more than five million people a year worldwide, mostly in low and middle-income countries.
Global Adult Tobacco Survey facts
Health warnings on cigarette packages are considered by the WHO a key tool to combat the global tobacco epidemic.
Half of the smokers from the 14 countries responded to quit their addiction looking at the warning and graphic images printed on the cigarette packs.
This data was collected between 2008 and 2010 for smokers in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam