A new study has revealed that cigarette warning labels may be more effective with imagery picturing the dangers of smoking.
A growing body of evidence supports the effectiveness of graphic warnings in motivating smokers to quit. Such labels can show people dying in hospital beds, facial scars, rotting teeth and diseased body parts, but less research has been done to show how much individuals actually learn from these labels.
Washington State University Vancouver’s Renee Magnan said that their outcomes suggest that focusing on enhancing understanding and knowledge from smoking warning labels that convey true consequences of smoking may not only influence motivation directly, both in terms of quitting and prevention of smoking, but may actually drive the emotional experience of the label, which they know is an important predictor of motivation.
The results suggest that the more understandable and informative the labels, the more likely people will worry about the consequences of smoking and, ultimately, be discouraged from doing it. Although this is a preliminary investigation, from a policy perspective, these outcomes suggest that focusing on deriving greater understanding and knowledge from such labels may have more impact in terms of both motivational and emotional responses, Magnan said.
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In conclusion, Magnan noted that the labels on cigarette packets are only a small piece of what should be a larger campaign to educate the public on the dangers of smoking. The study appears online in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.