Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Supersize Cigarette Warning Label?

Study: Larger Labels With Pictures -- As in Other Countries -- May Make Smokers Think Twice
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 6, 2007 -- American cigarette warning labels might be more effective if they were big and graphic -- like those in some other countries, according to a new study.

The news appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

In the study, researchers surveyed nearly 15,000 adult smokers in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia to test the effectiveness of the warning labels used in those four countries. The surveys were conducted between 2002 and 2005.

The key finding: The U.S. labels, which were the smallest and least detailed, were also the least effective.

"The current findings, along with previous research, suggest that U.S. smokers might benefit from large graphic warnings on cigarette packages," write the researchers, who include David Hammond, PhD, of Canada's University of Waterloo.

Label Lingo

U.S. cigarette labels include four warnings written on the side of cigarette packages.

Canadian, Australian, and British cigarette warning labels are much bigger, include more health warnings, and appear on the front and back of the packages.

The Canadian label covers half of the front and back of cigarette packages. It includes 16 warnings in print as well as pictures, such as a graphic suggestive of impotenceimpotence and the words "Tobacco use can make you impotent."

The Australian label includes six written warnings but no pictures. It covers a quarter of the front and a third of the back of cigarette packages.

The U.K. revised its cigarette warning label in late 2002, adding 10 written warnings (such as "Smoking when pregnant harms your baby") for a total of 16 written warnings on the front and back of the package. The warning text was also enlarged at that time.

World of Warnings

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 (but not required) 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.

Hammond's team didn't analyze the effectiveness of those labels.

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch