Changes in Smoking Level after Viewing Graphic Cigarette Warnings: Preliminary Findings

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Abstract

Background and Objectives:

Some countries require graphic warnings on cigarette packages, and other countries, including the United States, may follow that lead. A few studies have produced findings suggesting that graphic warnings may have effects on smoking-related attitudes and behaviors. The objective of the present study was to gather evidence on the effects of graphic warnings on smoking level and related behavior.

Methods:

This study was conducted with 89 adult smokers in the United States to examine the effects of warnings that included graphic images of cosmetically important physical harm caused by smoking. Participants completed measures of smoking level and cessation-related behavior before and after viewing 4 weekly health warnings about smoking, each with a graphic image showing cosmetically important health harm caused by smoking.

Results:

The study results showed significant improvement on all measures, providing pre–post evidence of a significant decrease in smoking level after viewing graphic and written warnings. The more participants perceived the warnings as distressing and useful, the more their smoking decreased.

Conclusions and Scientific Significance:

The study findings provide preliminary evidence that graphic warnings can lead to increases in cessation-related behavior and decreases in level of smoking.

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