Smoking Warnings in Pictures Worth a Thousand Words?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marissa G. Hall, MSPH Doctoral Candidate, Department of Health Behavior Gillings School of Global Public Health University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Marissa Hall

Marissa G. Hall, MSPH
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Health Behavior
Gillings School of Global Public Health
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires pictorial warnings on cigarette packs, but implementation was stalled by a 2012 lawsuit by the tobacco industry. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled against pictorial warnings, saying that FDA had “not provided a shred of evidence” that the pictorial warnings reduce smoking. To address this critique, our randomized trial examined the impact on smoking behavior of adding pictorial warnings to the front and back of cigarette packs. We found that smokers with pictorial warnings on their packs were more likely to attempt to quit and to successfully quit than those whose packs had text-only warnings.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We found that pictorial warnings promoted quit attempts and successful quitting over a 4-week period. The warnings also led smokers to reflect on the health harms of smoking and talk about these harms with other people. Pictorial warnings are a promising policy solution for promoting quit attempts and helping smokers quit smoking altogether.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Our study was limited to a month-long period. Future research could examine the impact of pictorial warnings over a longer period of time in an experimental setting. Knowing that pictorial warnings encourage quitting, studies could also look more closely at which types of pictorial warnings are most effective.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The US has not changed its cigarette pack warnings in over 30 years. The current warnings have become ineffective and stale. It is time for the US catch up with the 89 countries that have adopted pictorial warnings.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Brewer NT, Hall MG, Noar SM, et al. Effect of Pictorial Cigarette Pack Warnings on Changes in Smoking Behavior: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med.Published online June 06, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2621.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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