Graphic tobacco health warnings: which genre to choose?

Z Sobani, S Nizami, E Raza, N ul Ain Baloch, J A Khan
International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 2010, 14 (3): 356-61

BACKGROUND: Tobacco prevention studies show that graphic health warnings are more effective than text warnings, but there are no data on the effectiveness of different types of graphic health warnings in a Pakistani population. Even marginal differences in the effectiveness of genres can be of potential significance for public health.

OBJECTIVE: To study the effectiveness of different types of graphic tobacco warnings in a Pakistani population.

STUDY DESIGN: We presented ten anti-smoking warnings to randomly selected volunteers (n = 170) and recorded their opinion on the effectiveness of each warning. The warnings were based on a range of images aimed at the diverse population interviewed. A grading scale based on appeal, application, educational potential and motivation towards cessation was used to produce a composite grade of perceived effectiveness of the warning.

RESULTS: Our results indicate that graphic warnings reach a greater proportion of the population than text warnings. Those appealing to logic, and those inculcating a sense of fear by showing a deleterious outcome of smoking, were judged likely to be most effective in motivating smokers to quit and preventing experimental smokers from forming a habit.

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