San Diego smokers receive packets with graphic warnings for study
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Researchers at several universities and public health agencies in the San Diego area found in a report released Wednesday that graphic warning labels on tobacco products are effective reminders of the negative consequences of smoking about health.
Smokers in Australia, as an example cited, are faced with graphic warning labels describing the dangers of tobacco use – including pictures of gangrene of the foot, a newborn baby with a breathing tube and cancer of the the throat.
“Graphic warning labels are used in more than 120 countries to counter the marketing that encourages smoking,” said David Strong, professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at UC San Diego. “We wanted to know what effect such packaging of cigarettes would have on American smokers.”
Graphic warning labels were mandated by Congress in 2009, but implementation has been halted pending the outcome of legal challenges to the law by the tobacco industry.
In an article published online in the JAMA Network Open, Strong and colleagues at UCSD Moores Cancer Center, Cal State San Marcos, San Diego County Public Health Services, and San Diego State University , found that warning labels could dramatically reduce people’s perceptions of tobacco products. .
“Graphic warning labels have made daily smokers in the United States perceive cigarettes as less positive and this has heightened their concerns about the effects of smoking on their health and on their loved ones,” the corresponding author said. John Pierce, professor at the Herbert Wertheim School. of Public Health.
The study manufactured special cigarette packs that incorporated the graphic warning labels used on cigarette packs in Australia – licensed from the Australian government. The study participants were 357 smokers living in San Diego who agreed to buy their favorite brand of cigarettes from a study website. Participants were randomized to receive their cigarettes in one of three packaging designs: in packaging with a graphic warning label, with blank packaging, or in standard US commercially available packaging.
Participants were asked via interactive text messaging about concerns about health risks and their perceptions of the most recent cigarettes they have smoked. Changes in consumption and smoking status were assessed at the end of the three-month intervention.
Participants who received cigarettes in the standard pack or blank pack had no change in their positive perceptions of their cigarettes, while smokers randomized to the graphic warning label arm perceived their cigarettes less favorably. . Health problems increased in all three groups, possibly due to the intervention that made them think more often about the health consequences, the study authors said.
“While these labels make smokers more likely to think about quitting, it hasn’t made them more likely to make a serious attempt to quit, nor enough to help them quit their nicotine addiction,” said lead author Karen Messer, professor of biostatistics at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health.
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