Study: Graphic Warnings To Reduce Smoking

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Beginning in September 2012, the FDA will require larger, more prominent warnings on all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the U.S.

SELINSGROVE, Pa. — A U.S. study suggests the new health warnings with graphic pictures on cigarette packages will reduce demand for cigarettes, researchers say.

Study co-author Matthew Rousu, a professor of economics at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., and colleagues say the study involved a sample of 404 adult smokers from four States who participated in an experimental auction on cigarette packs with four different kinds of warning labels.

All packs carried the same message — smoking causes mouth cancer — but the first pack featured a text-only message on the side of the pack, which mimics the current U.S. policy on smoking warnings. The second pack had a text-only message that covered 50 percent of the lower half of the front, back and one side of the pack, and a third had the same text message, but with a photo depicting mouth cancer, the researchers say.

The fourth pack had the same text and graphic photo, but was a mostly unbranded pack with all color and symbolic brand elements removed except for the brand’s font, size and descriptors.

The study, scheduled to be published in the September issue of the journal Health Policy, bids for cigarette packs that had a grotesque photo and no brand imagery received bids that were 17 percent lower than the bids for the package with the current U.S. warning label.

“Results from our study suggest that the new health warnings with graphic pictures will reduce demand for cigarettes,” Rousu says in a statement.

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