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How would plain packaging and pictorial warning impact on smoking reduction, cessation and initiation?


The European Commission has proposed a review of the directive on tobacco products on labeling and packaging of tobacco products by introducing warning text with pictorial warning that occupies 75% of the cigarette packages. The aim of the survey was to assess the impact of plain packaging and pictorial warning in smoking reduction, cessation and initiation among a sample of adult. The cross-sectional study was conducted in Rome between September and November 2012. The questionnaires administered were 227, with a response rate of 82.4%. 35.8% (No. 67) of the respondents considered the image of the gangrene the most effective in communicating smoking-related damages, followed by the image on lung cancer (No. 60; 32.1%). Distinguishing between smokers and non-smokers (both former and never smokers), the picture on lung cancer was the most effective for smokers (No. 22; 38.6%); if cigarette packages have pictorial warnings like the ones shown, more than half (No. 33; 57.9%) of smokers would change brand; 66.7% (No. 38) of them would feel uncomfortable in showing the package. Comparing the 3 packagings, classic packaging, plain packaging with textual warning, and plain packaging with both textual and pictorial warning, the majority of people declared that the third is the most effective in preventing smoking initiation (No. 169; 90.9%), in motivating to quit (No. 158; 84.9%), and in changing smoking habits (No. 149; 80.5%). The survey, although its small sample size and being not representative of all strata of Italian population, shows that the plain packaging with pictorial warning is the most convincing in the three outcomes considered.

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