KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 – Printing warning labels on individual cigarettes may be a way to help smokers quit, according to a new research.
Aaron Drovandi, from James Cook University, Queensland, surveyed more than 2,000 smokers and non-smokers about the effectiveness of current and novel approaches to encourage people to quit or not start smoking.
His research discovered that most smokers had become desensitised to the current strategies, such as plain packaging on cigarette packets with warnings which were introduced in 2010 as part of Australia’s landmark plain-packaging legislation.
“It’s simply due to repetitive exposure,” Drovandi told Guardian Australia.
“If you look at a disgusting image it will have an effect, but after you see it many times it won’t have that same effect.
“The warnings on cigarette packages remained largely unchanged, things like the warning about emphysema or gangrene. They’re certainly graphic, but when you’re exposed to that graphic image over and over again it loses its impact,” he explained.
Instead, a new proposal of warnings about how much cigarettes cost, the effect on family members or a “minutes of life lost” counter on individual cigarettes – which would show the minutes disappearing as the cigarette burned – were found to have the biggest effect.
“The novelty of warnings on individual cigarettes were roughly twice as effective as on packaging, and we saw that repeated from a wide range of participants from different age groups and ethnicities,” Drovandi said.
“These warnings were considered particularly effective in increasing participants’ perceived susceptibility and severity to a wider range of consequences of smoking, and outlining the benefits of not smoking.
“The financial costs of smoking were a message considered novel, engaging, and widely applicable to the broader population, particularly by current smokers.”