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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
General Health Channel
Reported November 14, 2012

Pictures May Help Prevent Smoking


(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Warning labels can be found all over products such as cigarettes and alcohol informing the public of the health risks associated with using those products, but are they really effective? A new study has proved that putting pictures along with the text on cigarette warning labels are more effective at informing smokers of the health risks. 
The study, led by James F. Thrasher, Ph.D., from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, used close to 1,000 smokers who they had recruited from public places including supermarkets, flea markets, and sporting events, in low and middle-income areas in South Carolina.  
The researchers were “focusing on responses among smokers from low income populations where smoking remains prevalent because previous tobacco control interventions have been less successful in reaching this group than higher income populations," Dr. Thrasher was quoted as saying.  
The smokers were then separated into a control group and an experimental group which rated the health warning labels given to them on a ten point scale for credibility, personal relevance, and perceived effectiveness. 
The control group rated four health warning labels currently on cigarette packs in the U.S. while the experimental group was given nine different warning labels with pictures as well as text to rate.
Furthermore, the pictures on the warning labels for the experimental group varied between graphic image of diseased organs, imagery of human suffering, or an abstract symbol in order to determine which image was most effective. 
The results showed that the pictures were in fact more effective.
“Smokers with low-health literacy rated pictorial labels as more credible than text-only warnings, whereas no difference was found among smokers with high health literacy," Dr. Thrasher was quoted as saying. 
Health warning labels with pictures are used in many other countries throughout the world but their use in the United States has been stalled by the tobacco industry claiming that the labels would violate their right to free speech. 
"These results suggest that the FDA should consider implementing warning labels with more graphic imagery in order to maximize the impact of warnings across different populations of adult smokers, including more disadvantaged smokers," Dr. Thrasher was quoted as saying.
Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, December, 2012 
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