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Gruesome Cigarette Pack Images Sway Smokers, Study Finds
Date:11/13/2012

By Mary Brophy Marcus
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarette packs featuring images of cadavers, a field of weathered tombstones or yellow-toothed, cancer-riddled mouths may indeed convince smokers to quit, a new study suggests, and those kinds of pictures may have a particularly strong impact on less-educated smokers who are less informed about health.

Researchers from the University of South Carolina wanted to examine how cigarette packages featuring pictures related to the health fallout of smoking influenced adult smokers compared to words-only warnings. They recruited a less-educated smoking population because other studies show people in lower socioeconomic groups with lower levels of education are among the heaviest smokers with the highest tobacco-related disease rates.

Since the mid-1980s, tobacco products in the United States have carried the same text-only warnings about the dangers of tobacco use. The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, however, gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration more control over tobacco product labeling, and prominent visual images were going to be required on cigarette packages this year.

Before the new labeling rolled out, however, tobacco companies stalled the action in court, arguing such labels violated the right to free speech.

While the issue is being wrangled over legally, the researchers said they wanted to explore visual-warning use further, "to inform future warning-label policy development and implementation," they wrote in their study, which is scheduled for publication in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"Research on cigarette warnings in the United States and other countries has repeatedly shown that pictures work better than text," said lead investigator Dr. James Thrasher, an associate professor in the department of health promotion, education and behavior at
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