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Statutory Warnings on Cigarette Packs- Make It Bigger and Brighter, Say Researchers

ow at 32 percent. Here there was a warning from the U.S surgeon-general given as a small text message printed on the side of the cigarette packet. Incidentally, this message has remained unchanged since 1984.

Researchers also reported a direct link between willingness to quit and ad size and type.

In Canada and Britain, more than 10 percent said the labels had stopped them from reaching for a cigarette at some point in the past six months, and nearly 40 percent said the warnings had prompted them to think about giving up smoking in the previous month.

In the US, those figures were around seven percent and about 25 percent respectively.

In response to the study, Professor Gerard Hastings, of the Institute of Social Marketing at the University of Stirling, says: "We know health warnings work and can save lives as a result. But this study shows that the design and freshness of the message affects how well it does its job."

Some other countries get even more graphic with their warning labels, according to the report. For instance, a Thai label includes a picture of a man smoking, with skulls floating in the background. A Brazilian label shows an unhappy couple in bed, with a warning about impotence from smoking.

Another label image proposed by the European Union is a drawing of a dead man, his eyes covered by a cloth, lying on a table. The words "Smokers die younger" appear next to that image.

Similar research funded by Cancer Research UK has found that prominent warnings were more likely to be read but they must also be updated regularly or smokers became resistant to them.


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