Nav: Home

Graphic cigarette warning labels can deter some sales

April 09, 2019

Placing graphic anti-smoking warning labels on cigarette packages may deter some adults from purchasing tobacco products, but the strategy is unlikely to influence those smokers who are most addicted to nicotine, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Conducted in a one-of-a-kind laboratory that replicates a convenience store, the study found that the effects of graphic health warning labels on adult smokers' purchase of cigarettes depends on their level of nicotine dependence. Such labels typically include an image of a tobacco-caused illness such as oral cancer in gruesome detail, and words warning about the health consequences of smoking.

Smokers with lower nicotine dependence were less likely to purchase cigarettes when graphic health warnings were present, while the graphic labels had no effect on smokers with a heavy nicotine dependence. The findings are published in the journal Health Education Research.

"By reducing the likelihood of cigarette purchases at convenience stores among less-addicted smokers, graphic health warning labels could contribute to a range of public health benefits," said William G. Shadel, lead author of the study and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "But the graphic warning labels probably are not going to change the cigarette purchasing habits of people who are more thoroughly addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes."

More than 100 countries have regulations mandating that some type of graphic health warning labels on cigarette packages. Graphic health warning labels were scheduled to be introduced on cigarette packages in the U.S. in 2012, but have been delayed by legal actions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to propose final recommendations for graphic health warnings by March 2020.

For the RAND study, about 300 adult smokers visited the RAND StoreLab -- a replica of a convenience store -- and purchased up to $15 worth of items. Almost all participants had said they regularly purchased tobacco at convenience stores.

Half of the adults shopped in the convenience store lab under conditions where cigarette packages on display clearly showed a graphic health warning label. These graphic health warnings included packages displaying words that said "Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease" with an unpleasant image of a person using a non-rebreather mask and words that said "Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease" along with detailed images of a diseased lung.

The other half of adult visitors to the convenience store lab shopped under conditions where the cigarette packages on display showed typical words-only warnings like "Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy" and "Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide."

People who reported less addiction to nicotine were much less likely to purchase cigarettes during their visit when the cigarette displays included graphic health warning labels, as compared to when cigarettes had typical "words only" warnings on the packaging.

Among participants reporting a high-level of nicotine addiction, cigarettes were purchased at close to the same rate as when graphic warning labels were displayed on packages.

"Less-dependent smokers, who often are light or intermittent smokers, are a large and growing segment of tobacco users," Shadel said. "The graphic warning labels may by one way to prevent this group, which includes a lot of younger people, from becoming long-term users of cigarettes."
-end-
The RAND StoreLab is a 1,500-square-foot replica of a convenience store and stocks more than 650 items. The federally supported laboratory is used to conduct experiments about how different types of tobacco displays may influence consumer behavior.

Support for the study was provided by the National Cancer Institute. Other authors of the study are Steven C. Martino, Claude M. Setodji and Michael Dunbar of RAND, Deborah Scharf of Lakehead University and Kasey G. Creswell of Carnegie Mellon University.

The RAND Social and Economic Well-Being division seeks to actively improve the health, social and economic well-being of populations and communities throughout the world.

RAND Corporation

Related Heart Disease Articles:

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.
Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.
Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.
Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.
Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.
Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
Women once considered low risk for heart disease show evidence of previous heart attack scars
Women who complain about chest pain often are reassured by their doctors that there is no reason to worry because their angiograms show that the women don't have blockages in the major heart arteries, a primary cause of heart attacks in men.
Where you live could determine risk of heart attack, stroke or dying of heart disease
People living in parts of Ontario with better access to preventive health care had lower rates of cardiac events compared to residents of regions with less access, found a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Older adults with heart disease can become more independent and heart healthy with physical activity
Improving physical function among older adults with heart disease helps heart health and even the oldest have a better quality of life and greater independence.
More Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.