News / Health

Study: Graphic Photos on Cigarette Packages Prevents Smoking

Possible Cigarette Warning LabelPossible Cigarette Warning Label
x
Possible Cigarette Warning Label
Possible Cigarette Warning Label
The more graphic the better is the conclusion of a new study of warnings on cigarette packages.  A team at the University of South Carolina in the United States analyzed what kind of warning labels deter adults from smoking.

“Smokers rated warning labels with pictures and text to be stronger in terms of their believability, their relevance to smokers themselves and in terms of their effectiveness than the warnings that only contain text,” said the lead investigator, James Thrasher of the Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior at the university's Arnold School of Public Health.

The team's findings will appear in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

More than 40 countries have implemented health warning labels with pictures.  “The warnings that were more graphic, that show physical damage of smoking on the body were more effective than other kinds of imagery, such as showing human beings suffering the impacts of smoking or more symbolic or abstract imagery like, for example, showing tombstones to represent death that could be caused by smoking,” Thrasher said.

Pictures are the key

Smokers with low literacy rated pictorial labels as more credible than text-only warnings -- a major finding for developing countries with high illiteracy and smoking rates.

But researchers also found that smokers eventually become desensitized to even the most graphic imagery on packages, such as photographs of diseased organs.

“These warnings wear out over time, no matter what kind of content you have on them -- whether they're text only or whether they include these more graphic images or more symbolic, abstract images,” explained Thrasher.  “The WHO [i.e., World Health Organization] recommends that the warnings are refreshed on a regular basis, about every two years or so.  We're beginning to conduct the research to try to figure out what is the best period of rotation.”

Australia has taken matters a step farther.  It recently became the first country to mandate plain packaging.  That move is being hailed by WHO Director General Margaret Chan.  Speaking at a six-day global tobacco control conference in Seoul, Chan urged civil societies in other countries to get their governments to require packaging without brand logos.  “It peels off the glamour of a package full of harm and replaces it with the truth.  It will have vast benefits for health,” she said Monday at the opening of the Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Price trumps labels

Anti-smoking advocates say that even more important than labeling to prevent smoking, is making tobacco products more expensive.

“The price of tobacco products in most countries in the world is still incredibly low,” said Francis Thompson, director of policy and advocacy at the Geneva-based Framework Convention Alliance.  “And that's the single biggest thing that countries could do to bring back [i.e., reduce] consumption rapidly and deal with this really quite rapid rise in tobacco-caused deaths around the world.”

The Seoul meeting on Tuesday discussed guidelines on pricing and tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco.

Delegates from 170 countries on Monday unanimously approved a treaty to crack down on illicit cigarette manufacturing and distribution.  The accord will require non-removable tracing mechanisms on cigarettes and other tobacco products.  Smuggling and counterfeiting of cigarettes account for an estimated 11 percent of global tobacco trade.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has been ratified by 176 countries since coming into force in 2005.  The The United States, a leading producer of tobacco, and seven other countries have signed, but not ratified the treaty.  Ten countries have not signed it, including Indonesia -- a major tobacco consumer with an estimated 57 million smokers.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid