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Adolescents Pay Attention to Warnings on Plain Packaging of Cigarettes

Update Date: Aug 08, 2012 07:49 AM EDT

As the threshold of age at which youngsters get hooked on to smoking keeps deteriorating, and with the increasing number of people worldwide becoming passive victims of smoking, the need to find ways to warn people has increased. 

It is mandatory for companies to give a health warning on the packaging of tobacco products about the effects of consumption of the products. 

A new research claims that if cigarettes are packaged in a simple manner without attractive designs and imagery it may draw the attention of adolescent smokers to the health warnings on the package. Hopefully, this may discourage them from smoking. 

For the study, the researchers quizzed 87 teenage secondary school (high school) students from the city of Bristol, UK, to look at 20 images of cigarette packs on a computer screen for ten seconds. As they looked at the images, a device tracked their eye movements.

While some of the packs were plainly packed and only carried the name of the brand in a plain font and a standard pictorial health warning, the rest were packed colorfully and also had the same health warnings.  

It was found that those students, who had never smoked before, paid attention to health warnings on both kinds of packing. However, those who smoked regularly tended to avoid looking at any health warnings at all.

Students who smoked occasionally or had tried smoking at least once  seemed to pay attention to health warnings more closely on plain packs than on branded and colorful packs.

Adolescents are much more prone to smoking when compared to adults and research says that pictorial health warnings can discourage adolescent smokers from smoking and those who can let go of cigarettes because of the health warnings have a lower intention to smoke. 

Currently, the due to its plain-packaging legislation, the Australian government undergoing an international trade dispute involving several tobacco companies and tobacco-producing nations.

The finding of this research is evidence in favor of the Australian government.

The research was published online in the scientific journal Addiction.

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