Cigarette health warnings push smokers to quit: study

May 26, 2011

Warnings on cigarette packets about the dangers of tobacco push smokers to kick the habit, and graphic images depicting human suffering are the most effective, a study released Thursday shows.

Nearly all adult in countries where a (WHO) convention requires on 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, says the study.

In the remaining eight countries, with the exception of Poland, more than one in four poll respondents said the 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 analyzed 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 the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.

They found that warnings that are most likely to get someone to 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 from a smoker and motivating them to quit, the CDC study says.

Brazil and Thailand both had "numerous prominent and graphic pictorial warnings in rotation" and also had some of the highest rates of smokers thinking about quitting because of the warnings, the study says.

But for reasons that are unclear, thinking about quitting was also high in Bangladesh and Vietnam, where warnings cover less of the package and were text-only, it says.

The CDC wants to see further research to try to find out how many smokers who think about quitting because of a warning on a packet actually do, and to determine what other factors come into play in getting someone to 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.

Health warnings on tobacco product packages are considered by the WHO to be a key tool in combating the global tobacco epidemic, along with price hikes, smoke-free policies, and advertising and sponsorship bans.

Explore further: Plain cigarette packets could help stop people taking up smoking

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Sleep loss tied to changes of the gut microbiota in humans

October 25, 2016

Results from a new clinical study conducted at Uppsala University suggest that curtailing sleep alters the abundance of bacterial gut species that have previously been linked to compromised human metabolic health. The new ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) May 26, 2011
Cigarette health warnings push smokers to quit: study

But that is not what the study found. It found that a lot of smokers who saw/read the warnings thought about quitting. Sucks, lots of smokers think about quitting with no prompting whatsoever.

The study was a waste of time, but it was more than that. By suggesting that warnings "push smokers to quit", it is intentionally inaccurate.
5 / 5 (2) May 26, 2011
As a 40+ year smoker, I can tell you that it is the coughing, hacking, lack of energy, and shortness of breath that "pushes" you to quit. Putting graphic images on the pack will not faze me in the least. On the other hand, from what I remember of adolescence, the graphic images will just add to the cool factor.
5 / 5 (1) May 27, 2011
agreed with dan42day and dogbert 150%. ive got over 20 years under my belt smoking, and even have all kinds of stuff at the house to quit...i still dont, and NO amount ofl labeling will ever do so....all they are doing is increasing costs unnecessarily.
as a kid, stealing cigarette butts from my parents and smoking those, i never even looked at the pack, all i saw was mom and dad doing it so it must be ok, and they do it so much, so it must be fun too....
not rated yet May 30, 2011
Studies have shown that two factors are most efficient in helping you to break an addiction. The first is disgust. Patients reporting that they want to stop due to a feeling of disgust are by far more likely to kick the habit than others. The second is facing your own mortality. Patients who have been diagnosed with diseases such as lung cancer tend to have a substatially higher chance of quitting.

If you really want to quit smoking, the by far easiest (and less fatal) method seems to be by doing everything possible to get disgusted by it. Disgust is a powerful feeling.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.