Health warnings on cigarettes could deter young people

Health warnings on cigarettes could deter young people
Young people are less likely to try cigarettes displaying the printed health warning 'Smoking kills' than standard cigarettes, according to a new study by Cancer Research UK. A survey including nearly 1,000 participants aged 16-24 revealed that a health warning on the cigarette paper made smokers and non-smokers three times less likely to try them than standard cigarettes. Credit: Cancer Research UK

Young people are less likely to try cigarettes with the printed health warning 'Smoking kills' on each stick than standard cigarettes, according to a new study by Cancer Research UK published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Researchers wanted to examine new, innovative ways to reinforce messages around . They surveyed nearly 1000 16-24 year olds from across the UK to evaluate their response to different cigarette designs.

A health warning on the side of each cigarette meant —including smokers and non-smokers—were around three times less likely to want to try them than standard cigarettes. Smokers were the most put off by them.

Young people also said that green cigarettes were less tempting than standard cigarettes.

Smoking tobacco is the biggest preventable cause of in the UK and the leading cause of preventable death. While smoking rates among young people in the UK are going down, one in every six 16-24 year olds is a smoker in Great Britain. And in Scotland a fifth of all 16-24 year olds smoke.

Dr Crawford Moodie, Cancer Research UK-funded scientist and lead author said: "The study shows how cigarettes can be an important communication tool and that altering their appearance, with a health warning or an unappealing colour, can make them less desirable. Young people who start smoking are likely to continue to do so into adulthood, so anything that may deter smoking among this group could help to tackle the potential health repercussions in later life."

Health warnings on cigarettes could deter young people
Young people are less likely to try cigarettes displaying the printed health warning 'Smoking kills' than standard cigarettes, according to a new study by Cancer Research UK. A survey including nearly 1,000 participants aged 16-24 revealed that a health warning on the cigarette paper made smokers and non-smokers three times less likely to try them than standard cigarettes. Credit: Cancer Research UK

George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK's senior policy manager said: "Too many young people are still taking up smoking in the UK. Government anti-smoking campaigns and tax rises on cigarettes remain the most effective methods to stop young people starting. We need to continue to explore innovative ways to turn young off cigarettes to ensure that youth continue to drop. This study shows that tactics like making the cigarettes themselves unappealing could be an effective way of doing this."


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More information: Crawford Moodie et al, The response of young adult smokers and non-smokers in the United Kingdom to dissuasive cigarettes: An online survey, Nicotine & Tobacco Research (2017). DOI: 10.1093/ntr/ntx261
Journal information: Nicotine & Tobacco Research

Provided by Cancer Research UK
Citation: Health warnings on cigarettes could deter young people (2017, December 11) retrieved 25 August 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-health-cigarettes-deter-young-people.html
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Dec 11, 2017
As with all icons we see regularly, after a while the text will become invisible as attention is no longer drawn to it.

A simple test of this phenomena is to ask someone which way the Queen's head is facing on coins, bank notes and stamps. These are things that people in the UK and many colonies (eg Australia, New Zealand etc) see multiple times per day. And yet most people get it wrong.

So what actually *does* work?? The answer is novelty. The conscious mind is drawn to novelty, that is, when things change. Thus in the study above the new text on the cigarettes is novel and it is this novelty that greatly leverages the effect of the text. But after a while the smoker's mind 'chunks' the text with the rest of cigarette and no longer notices it, unless the text changes.

It is also worth noting that the ink in the text may form a toxic smoking hazard over and above the hazard of the tobacco making the signage a self fulfilling prophesy...

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