Teens ignore cigarette health warnings
Graphic pictures and health warnings on the back of cigarette packs in the UK are meant to deter people from the habit, but new research suggests that this has little effect on teen smokers. Though US cigarette packs have warnings in the form of text only, in the UK, the image covers more than 75 percent of the main surface area of the cigarette pack.
For the study, researchers looked at two waves of Youth Tobacco Policy surveys of teens 11 to 16 years old. The first survey of 1,401 teens was completed by 2008 and the second survey of 1,373 teens was completed by 2011. Each survey presented the same text warnings on the front and back of the cigarette pack, and the second survey had the image warning on the pack too. The teens were asked to share their thoughts which were scored on a sliding scale of one to five.
The surveys showed that 68 to 75 percent of teens had never smoked, 17 to 22 percent had experimented with cigarettes, and one in 10 were considered regular smokers. Results also showed that only one in 10 teens said they thought about the warnings when the cigarette pack was not in sight, though 85 percent of them thought the warnings were credible. Though the proportion of teens who thought the warning could deter them from smoking increased between 2008 to 2011, it was only seen in those who had never smoked or experimental smokers, but not regular smokers. In addition, teens were more likely to recall pictorial warnings rather than text warnings, but had less impact when the image was only on the back of the pack.
Researchers say their findings suggest that warning design should be evaluated for deterrent effect for experimental smokers and never smokers.