"I'm not that surprised with what it finally showed," said Dr. Aditi Satti, director of the Smoking Cessation Program and an assistant professor of medicine at Temple University Health System, in Philadelphia. Satti was not involved in the research.
"The study did target patients who might not listen to other types of messages -- a lower-income, less educated population," she said. "A picture is probably worth a thousand words in this type of patient."
Whether an image on a cigarette package is going to correlate to increasing quit rates is unclear yet, added Satti, but she said including pictures on warning labels is a good first step.
"It gets people at least thinking about what the consequences of smoking cigarettes are. It gets them in the contemplation state," Satti said. She also pointed out that people live in a more visual world now, with quick images on television, in games and in movies, so this type of study in younger adolescent smokers is also worth exploring.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 percent of the adult population smokes. It's the leading cause of early, preventable death in the United States, and linked to 443,000 deaths a year and close to $200 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity.
"The U.S. should put prominent, graphic warnings on cigarette packages," Thrasher said. "Smoking is highest among people with the least education in the U.S., and the government needs to do something about it."
For more on quitting smoking, go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: James Thrasher, Ph.D., department of health promotion, education and behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.; Aditi Satti, M.D., a
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