Warnings on every cigarette could reduce smoking

More difficult to avoid health message
  • Deborah Condon

We already have health warnings on cigarette packs, however a new study has suggested that putting health warnings on every single cigarette could reduce smoking.

Scottish researchers set out to asses the potential impact a ‘Smoking kills' warning could have if it was placed on individual cigarettes, as opposed to only appearing on the pack.

Some 120 smokers aged 16 and over took part in 20 focus groups. Within each of these groups, the participants felt that warnings on individual cigarettes could potentially have an impact on themselves or others.

They said that such warnings would prolong the health message because it would be visible at all times, including when the cigarette was being put to the mouth or just sitting in an asthtray. This would make avoidant behaviour more difficult.

The participants also suggested that smoking would be off-putting for others because it was associated with a negative image. Some of the participants said that the warnings were worrying, frightening and depressing and people would not feel good smoking something displaying such a warning.

The researchers believe that this approach has the potential to discourage smoking among particular people, such as young people and those only starting to smoke.

"The consensus was that individual cigarettes emblazoned with warnings would be off-putting for young people, those starting to smoke, and non-smokers. This study suggests that the introduction of such warnings could impact the decision making of these groups.

"It shows that this approach is a viable policy option and one which would, for the first time, extend health messaging to the consumption experience," commented lead researcher, Dr Crawford Moodie, of the University of Stirling.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, Addiction Research and Theory.


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