MONDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed graphic new warning labels on cigarette packaging, to help curb smoking. But do these often gruesome images work to help smokers quit?
A new study suggests they do. Smokers shown grim images of a mouth with a swollen, blackened and generally horrifying cancerous growth covering much of the lip were more likely to say they wanted to quit than smokers shown less disturbing images.
Researchers had 500 smokers from the United States and Canada view a cigarette package with no image; a package with an image of a mouth with white, straight teeth; one with an image of a moderately damaged smoker's mouth; and a disfigured mouth with the stomach-turning mouth cancer.
Though researchers did not measure who actually quit, "intention to quit" is an important step in the process -- and the more gruesome the image, the more smokers said they wanted to finally kick the habit, according to the study.
"The more graphic, the more gruesome the image, the more fear-evoking those pictures were," said Jeremy Kees, an assistant professor of marketing at Villanova University. "As you increase the level of fear, intentions to quit for smokers increase."
The study is published in the fall issue of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.
The findings come at a time when the FDA is grappling with what sorts of images tobacco companies should be required to put on cigarette packaging, beginning in 2012.
As part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, passed in 2009, the FDA was granted broad new powers to regulate the manufacturing, advertising and promotion of tobacco products to protect public health.
On Nov. 10, the FDA released a series of images and text that are being considered. The images included a portrait of an emaciat
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