Pictures are the best way to warn smokers of he alth risks
Illustrated cues are more effective than text warnings at communicating the he alth risks of smoking to nicotine addicts. This was a comparison of the success of different types of he alth warnings required on cigarette packs in Canada, US, UK and Australia.
The study examined the reactions of a total of 15,000 smokers from the four countries who were interviewed between 2002 and 2005 as to whether they noticed warnings and whether they reacted to them by changing their smoking behavior or by wanting to stop . Pictures have been put on boxes in Canada, larger warning labels have been used in Australia since 1994 and smaller labels in the USA since 1984.
The researchers at the University of Washington have now found that 60 percent of Canadian smokers, around half of the Australians surveyed and almost a third of US citizens said they often noticed the warnings. In Great Britain, where the EU-typical inscriptions were first introduced in 2003, attention rose from 44 to 82 percent. Two and a half years after its introduction, however, the rate had fallen back to 67 percent. Overall, the longer cues remained unchanged, the less impressed smokers they were.
Although the visual warnings, which have long been used in Canada, attracted a lower percentage of attention than the text warnings that were just introduced in the UK, they are more effective in deterring smoking, the researchers continue: In Canada, 15 percent of respondents report that they are through the warning has already been discouraged from smoking - a higher value than in all other countries.
In a second study, researchers at Bolton Hospital asked teenage smokers which of five he alth conditions they knew were caused by smoking and which ones they were particularly afraid of. Among other things, it was found that although 81 percent of those surveyed were aware of the risk of lung cancer, only five percent were aware of the risk of going blind. At the same time, however, nine out of ten young people expressed a strong fear of losing their eyesight and also stated that they would stop smoking at the first sign of it . The researchers now advise adding an indication of possible blindness to the canon of warnings previously printed. (yo)