Cigarette package warnings about the health dangers of smoking can be effective in helping to stop former smokers from lighting up again, a new international study suggests.
The study appears as legal wrangling takes place in the United States over a proposed requirement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that cigarette packages begin to carry graphic warning labels later this year.
The researchers polled about 2,000 former smokers in the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia. The smokers were followed for one year, and then asked about their thoughts on exposure to package messaging, as well as whether they were currently smoking. Overall, 58 percent of smokers who had quit continued to be smoke free at the end of a year. Those who said they felt cigarette warning labels were helpful had a 41 percent relapse rate, compared with 50 percent for those who said the messages were not helpful.
Canada has had graphic warning labels on cigarette packs since 2000, HealthDay reports. The labels cover half of each pack’s surface on both sides. In Australia, graphic warning labels have covered 30 percent of the cover of cigarette packages, and 90 percent of the back of packages, since 2006. In the United Kingdom, warnings consisting only of text take up 30 percent of the front, and 40 percent of the back of cigarette packaging.
The study appears in the journal Tobacco Control.
The cigarette warning labels proposed by the FDA include graphic images of the consequences of smoking, including diseased lungs and rotting teeth. The FDA wants the disturbing pictures to cover at least half of the front and back of a cigarette package. The FDA also said the images must take up to at least 20 percent of each cigarette ad.