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Smoking Cessation Health Center

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Supersize Cigarette Warning Label?

Study: Larger Labels With Pictures -- As in Other Countries -- May Make Smokers Think Twice

Labels Effective?

In the surveys, Hammond's team asked smokers in the four countries studied how often they noticed the warning labels on cigarettes and whether the labels made them try to quit smoking or think about smoking's health risks.

U.S. smokers -- who had the smallest, least-detailed warning labels -- were the least likely to report noticing or reacting to the labels.

"The U.S. warnings performed poorly compared to those in other countries," write Hammond and colleagues.

In contrast, Canadian smokers -- who had the biggest, most graphic warning labels of the four countries -- reported the greatest impact from those labels.

Australia ranked second, followed by the U.K.

But the British label change made an impact on smokers, boosting their awareness and quit-smoking attempts -- at least at first.

That effect faded within two and a half years after the label change, probably because British smokers had gotten used to the new label, Hammond's team notes.

Bigger May Be Better

U.S. warning labels may need a makeover to become more effective, the study suggests.

"The health warnings that appear on the side of U.S. cigarette packages provide even less health information than many other, more benign consumer goods," write Hammond and colleagues.

They point out that quit-smoking tips and encouragement are packed inside Canadian cigarette packages.

Putting quit-smoking resources (such as web sites and toll-free smoking cessation phone lines) on cigarette packages might also help, Hammond's team suggests.

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