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'Quit Smoking' Pictures More Effective than Words

Update Date: Jan 16, 2013 03:37 AM EST

The popular saying 'action speaks louder than words' can probably be rephrased to 'graphics speak louder than words', as scientists in a new research have found that explicit graphic details on cigarette packets are more effective than mere words warning the smoker of health consequences.

The research might be helpful at this time, particularly with many people taking New Year resolutions to quit smoking in 2013.

In the study that was conducted at Legacy® and Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that smokers tend to ignore the warnings printed on all cigarette packets. However, when the warning is converted into a picture, its effectiveness increases.

The effect of pictorial warnings is more widespread as it covers individuals from different race, ethnic, social and economic backgrounds.

"Interventions that have a positive impact on reducing smoking among the general population have often proven ineffective in reaching disadvantaged groups, worsening tobacco-related health disparities. It's critical to examine the impact of tobacco policies such as warning labels across demographic groups. The implementation of graphic warning labels appears to be one of the few tobacco control policies that have the potential to reduce communication inequalities across groups," Jennifer Cantrell, DrPH, MPA, and Assistant Director for Research and Evaluation at Legacy®, was quoted as saying by Medical Express. Legacy® is a national public health foundation devoted to reducing the usage of tobacco in the U.S.

The study was based on approximately 3,300 smokers and their reaction to the warning labels on cigarette packs. The results of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The research showed that graphical representation had more impact than their textual counterparts, and encouraged more numbers of people to quit smoking. Also, it was found that the pictures had a similar impact on people from different backgrounds be it social, ethnic, economic or education.

"Tobacco use is a social justice issue, given that lower income and minority communities have higher smoking rates and suffer disproportionately from tobacco's health consequences, studies like this show us that graphic warning labels can help us reach these subgroups in a more effective way, ultimately saving more lives," Donna Vallone, PhD, senior vice president for Research and Evaluation at Legacy®, said.

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