Appalachian residents' perspectives on new U.S. cigarette warning labels

Paul L Reiter, Benjamin Broder-Oldach, Mary Ellen Wewers, Elizabeth G Klein, Electra D Paskett, Mira L Katz
Journal of Community Health 2012, 37 (6): 1269-78
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revealed new pictorial warning labels in June 2011 for cigarette packages, yet little is known about how these labels are perceived by U.S. residents. We examined the reactions to and attitudes about the new labels among residents of Appalachian Ohio, a region with a high smoking prevalence. We conducted focus groups with Appalachian Ohio residents between July and October 2011. Participants included healthcare providers (n = 30), community leaders (n = 26), parents (n = 28), and young adult men ages 18-26 (n = 18). Most participants supported the addition of the new labels to U.S. cigarette packages, though many were unaware of the labels prior to the focus groups. Participants did not think the labels would be effective in promoting smoking cessation among smokers in their communities, but they were more positive about the potential of the labels to reduce smoking initiation. Participants reported positive feedback about the more graphic labels, particularly those showing a man with a tracheal stoma or a person with severe oral disease. The labels that include a cartoon image of an ill infant and a man who quit smoking received the most negative feedback. Participants generally supported adding pictorial warning labels to U.S. cigarette packages, but only a few of labels received mostly positive feedback. Results offer early insight into how the new labels may be received if they are put into practice.

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