Pictures Speak Louder Than Words on Cigarette Labeling01/17/13
THURSDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Tobacco warning labels
that include graphic pictures of the health consequences of smoking
are more effective than text-only warnings among all groups of
smokers, according to a new study.
Researchers examined the reactions of more than 3,300 smokers to
cigarette warning labels. The smokers said the warnings with
graphic pictures were more credible, had a greater impact and
strengthened their intention to quit, compared with text-only
The stronger impact of the pictorial warnings was similar across
different racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups, according to the
study, which was published Jan. 14 in the journal
The findings suggest that pictorial warning labels are one of
the few tobacco-control policies that can have an effect on all
these groups, said Jennifer Cantrell, assistant director for
research and evaluation at Legacy, a national public health
foundation devoted to reducing tobacco use in the United
The study was funded by Legacy and conducted by researchers at
Legacy and the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston.
Given that minority and poor Americans have disproportionately
high rates of tobacco-related disease, "mandating strong pictorial
warnings is an effective and efficient way to communicate the risk
of tobacco use," study senior author Vish Viswanath, associate
professor of society, human development and health at the Harvard
School of Public Health, said in the news release.
Many experts have said that text-only warnings would be unlikely
to be noticed or to have an impact on smokers, the researchers
"Tobacco use is a social justice issue," Donna Vallone, senior vice president for research and evaluation at Legacy, said in the news release. "Given that low-income and minority communities have higher smoking rates and suffer disproportionately from tobacco's health consequences, studies like this show us that graphic warning labels can help us reach these subgroups in a more effective way, ultimately saving more lives."
More than 400,000 Americans die each year from tobacco-related
diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and emphysema.
The American Cancer Society offers a
guide to quitting smoking.
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