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These cigarette warning labels have an impact on quitting

Harold Mandel's picture
Don't smoke

In spite of the consistently confirmatory evidence that cigarette smoking is associated with lung cancer and other serious illness a lot of people continue to smoke. In fact that very fact that cigarettes remain legal raises serious concerns about clearly credible allegations that the governments allow a lot of poison, such as unhealthy food and psychiatric drugs, to flood the market for huge profits. Although profits for businesses of their choice obviously override any real health concerns in the minds many powerful lawmakers, it has fortunately been established that cigarette warning labels have an impact on quitting.

Warning label salience has a positive association with thoughts about risks of smoking

Researchers set out to test and develop a model of the mediational pathways via which health warning labels exert their influence on the subsequent quitting behavior of smokers reported Health Psychology. As anticipated warning label salience had a positive association with thoughts about risks of smoking as stimulated by the warnings. This was positively associated with increased worrying about negative outcomes of smoking. An increase in worry about negative outcomes of smoking predicted stronger intention to quit. This translated into a strong predictor of subsequent quit attempts.

Health warning labels appear to influence future quitting attempts

It was concluded by the researchers that health warning labels appear to influence future quitting attempts primarily via their ability to stimulate thoughts about the risks of smoking. These thoughts in turn help to increase smoking associated health concerns which ultimately lead to stronger intentions to quit. Stronger intentions to quit is recognized as a primary predictor of future quit attempts for smokers. It is therefore believed that warning labels which are more salient and engaging should have a greater chance to change behavior.

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The bigger the cigarette warning labels the better

It is thought that the bigger the cigarette warning labels the better reports the American Psychological Association. According to a survey of thousands of adult smokers residing in four countries which has been published by the American Psychological Association cigarette warning labels can influence a smoker to attempt to quit even when the smoker is trying to avoid seeing the labels.

People who notice warning labels are more likely to attempt to quit smoking

The researchers found small, text-only warning labels such as those which are on cigarette packs in the United States prompt people to consider health risks of smoking. Furthermore, people who notice the warning labels regularly are more likely to attempt to quit smoking. According to the study which has been published in the APA journal Health Psychology larger, more graphic warning labels such as those which are seen in other countries, such as Australia, were better at getting people’s attention and motivating them to attempt to quit.

Simply seeing health warning labels makes people consider the health risks of smoking

Among smokers who paid attention to the warning labels simply seeing them was found to make them think about the health risks of smoking. Thinking about the health risks of smoking made people less likely to smoke a cigarette. It was also found that people who didn’t give much thought to the health risks of smoking were more likely to take the position that those risks were exaggerated. These people were also found to be more likely to say that they enjoyed smoking too much to give up the habit. Interestingly, smokers who consciously made attempts to avoid the labels by covering them up or by keeping them out of sight still reported often considering the health risks and about quitting.

It is significant that noticing the health warnings of smoking may be the first step towards getting smokers to think about quitting and to even attempt to quit. This leads to a consideration that warnings which are larger and more graphic should be encouraged. Mass media campaigns against smoking should also keep this in mind. Thoughts among smokers of enjoying smoking while taking pleasant horseback ride along the beach with the sun setting as seen in some advertising campaigns should be replaced with bloody images of lungs ravaged by lung cancer with large words stating smoking really does kill.