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Graphic health warnings help quitters stay away from smoking

The graphic health warnings on cigarette packets not only help smokers quit, it also helps those who have quit to stay away from smoking.

This has been indicated in a survey of former smokers carried out in Australia, Canada, the US and the UK.

While noticing that cigarettes might pose a risk for ex-smokers to start again, warnings on labels can be used to actively resist the urge, according to the survey carried out by scientists from the Cancer Council Victoria, Australia; University of South Carolina, US and the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Giving up: Health warnings on the side of cigarette packets have been found to help quitters stay away from smoking

Giving up: Health warnings on the side of cigarette packets have been found to help quitters stay away from smoking

The survey involved 1936 recent ex-smokers.

‘Our results provide the first prospective evidence that warning labels can have a protective benefit for recent ex-smokers over a period of at least one year after quitting,’ one of the scientists said.


The paper was published in the journal Tobacco Control.

It may be that ex-smokers actively use warning labels to remind them of their reasons for quitting.

Thus, ex-smokers should be encouraged to use pack warnings to counter urges to resume smoking.

Novel warnings may be more likely to facilitate this, scientists suggested.

Warnings: The packaging helps raise awareness of smoking-related diseases

Health warning labels on cigarette packets have consistently been shown to provide information, raise awareness of smoking- related risks, promote quit-line use, reduce cigarette packet appeal, strengthen intentions to quit and increase cessation behaviours such as reducing cigarette consumption and making quit attempts.

People who have never smoked report that warning labels discourage them from taking up the habit.

Among adolescents, warning labels reduce intentions to smoke and lead to their not taking up the habit.

However, the impact of warning labels on exsmokers was not well understood so far.

The survey was part of the International Tobacco Control 4-Country policy evaluation project which commenced in 2002 to monitor the impact of tobacco control policies.

Another study by scientists from the University of Michigan has warned that global smoking prevalence would fall by about 1.7 percentage points by 2030 unless governments initiate concerted action.

But if measures suggested by the World Health Organization such as tobacco use monitoring, protection from second-hand smoke, warnings about the dangers of tobacco, ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and tax hikes are adopted, global prevalence would fall from around 24 per cent in 2010 to a little over 13 per cent by 2030

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