Do smoking warnings work?

Study: "smoking kills" should be printed on individual cigarettes

Why anti-tobacco warnings are not effective

New Delhi: Countries around the world try to reduce smoking through health warnings about cigarette consumption. While there has been a great deal of progress with respect to warnings about tobacco products, their impact on the consumption of tobacco products has not been conclusive.

A study by Johanna Catherine Maclean and others published by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that more than the content of the advisory, the source of the information is critical in determining the demand for cigarettes. To show this, the authors conducted a nationally representative online survey of adult smokers between the ages of 18 and 64 in the months of April and May 2017 in the US.

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Do smoking warnings help people quit cigarettes?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Health warnings about smoking are displayed on every packet of cigarettes in the UK - but there is evidence that shows they should be printed on the cigarettes themselves.

A study claims that "smoking kills" should be printed on individual cigarettes to deter smokers.

However, others argue that the impact of health warnings on tobacco products is not conclusive.

The Claim

A study by the University of Stirling calls for warnings to printed on individual cigarettes, rather than just on packets.

Researchers examined smokers' reactions to the words "smoking kills" being printed on cigarettes, Sky News reports.

The health experts found that the 120 smokers, aged 16 and over in Edinburgh and Glasgow, viewed the warnings as "depressing, worrying and frightening".

Lead researcher Dr Crawford Moodie said that the warnings could stop young people smoking.

She said: "The consensus was that individual cigarettes emblazoned with warnings would be off-putting for young people, those starting to smoke, and non-smokers.

"This study suggests that the introduction of such warnings could impact the decision-making of these groups.

"It shows that this approach is a viable policy option and one which would - for the first time - extend health messaging to the consumption experience."

The Counterclaim

However, Live Mint is sceptical whether anti-tobacco warnings actually have an impact on smokers.

They explain why they think the warnings are not effective, arguing that their "impact on the consumption of tobacco products has not been conclusive".

A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the source of the information is "critical in determining the demand for cigarettes".

The researchers created pieces of advice about the less harmful effects of e-cigarettes, compared to traditional cigarettes. They credited them to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a fictitious private e-cigarette company, and physicians.

The participants, aged 18 to 64 in the US, were more receptive to the information from the private company.

They report: "The authors acknowledge that the results are counter-intuitive. Respondents seemingly trust private companies more than credible sources of information such as the government agency and physicians.

"One reason for this, the authors argue, could be the general distrust in science and government from segments of the US population."

The Facts

Nearly 1.5 billion fewer cigarettes have been smoked each year in England since 2011, according to a study by Cancer Research UK.

It found that the average monthly cigarette consumption fell by nearly a quarter between 2011 and 2018. This means that around 118 million fewer cigarettes were being smoked every month over a seven-year period.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 15 per cent of men and women, aged 18 and over, smoke cigarettes in the UK - that's around 7.4 million smokers.

Around 17 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women smoke in the UK.

Smoking is the largest cause of cancer in the UK - with 15 per cent of cases caused by cigarettes. In 2015, it caused an estimated 115,000 deaths.

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Print 'smoking kills' on individual cigarettes to deter smokers, say health experts

Printing "smoking kills" on individual cigarettes could help reduce the number of people lighting up, researchers have said.

A study by the University of Stirling examined smokers' reactions to health warnings branded directly on to cigarettes, rather than messages appearing on packs only.

It found that the warnings were viewed as "depressing, worrying and frightening" and prolonged the message about the harms of smoking, the university said.

Cancer Research UK, which funded the study, said the findings suggested that making cigarettes look "unappealing" could be an effective way of cutting smoking rates.

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