Every year, smoking claims the lives of nearly half a million Americans despite the extensive documentation of its health risks. According to the CDC, nearly 17 of every 100 U.S. adults smoked cigarettes in 2014. There is, however, good news for many of the estimated 40 million people who may have attempted to smoke less or quit entirely.
A recent randomized-controlled trial shows that graphic images on cigarette packaging may increase the likelihood of quitting smoking. The study, conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine, hopes to prove that pictorial warnings discourage smoking. Of the 1,901 participants who completed the trial, the smokers whose packs had pictorial warnings were more likely to adjust their behaviors during the 4-week trial. According to the study:
Having quit smoking for at least the 7 days prior to the end of the trial was more common among smokers who received pictorial than those who received text-only warnings… Pictorial warnings also increased forgoing a cigarette, intentions to quit smoking, negative emotional reactions, thinking about the harms of smoking, and conversations about quitting.”
Early trial results show six percent more people chose to quit for at least a day after exposure to the graphic depictions. The findings also had no difference in results across different demographic groups.
Graphic warning labels on cigarette packaging are now required in over 70 countries and were mandated by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009. Implementation has not occurred, however, as U.S. courts found the requirement in violation of First Amendment free speech protections.
Read more here – “Graphic Cigarette Warnings Deter Smokers” (Nicholas Bakalar, NYT)