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U.S. Study Says Graphic Images Make the Case to Quit Cigarette Smoking

Friday, November 16, 2012 7:22 PM EST

U.S. Study Says Graphic Images Make the Case to Quit Cigarette Smoking
By Erik Pineda

Graphic images carry more punch in convincing smokers to kick the habit,
a new U.S. study said, which also showed that mere text warnings were no
match to powerful representations of the numerous ill-effects of
cigarette smoking.

Researchers led by Dr James Thrasher of the University of Carolina in
Columbia confirmed on their study of 1,000 individuals that “that
pictures work better than text,” in terms of driving home the message
that smoking leads to serious health conditions and even death.

Mr Thrasher added that such findings are applicable not only in the
United States but also in other countries including Australia, which
this year is set to implement one of the strictest regulatory measures
that the global tobacco industry will face.

By December 2012, cigarette products being sold locally are legally
required to come in drab packages, with the plain look to be
complemented by imposing health warnings that occupy much of each pack’s
total makeup.

Rolling out this kind of policy is powerful enough to reduce any
country’s incidence of smoking but more traction for such campaign will
be gained if compelling images of people suffering from tobacco-related
diseases are used, Mr Thrasher said.

“Our research supports this finding while also showing what tobacco
researchers have assumed for a while – that warnings with pictures work
particularly well among smokers with low levels of literacy,” the lead
author of the new report was quoted by USNews as saying.

The report is set to be published by the American Journal of Preventive
Medicine on December 2012, USNews said.

According to Mr Thrasher, the findings that he and his co-researchers
arrived at are especially true for smokers with low health literacy.

This bracket of the respondents “rated the warning labels with pictures
as more credible than text-only messages,” the report said while “the
warnings with very graphic imagery were rated as the most effective by
smokers with both high and low health literacy.”

The strongest indication that the study has reflected is that
governments “should put prominent, graphic warnings on cigarette
packages . . . (because) smoking is highest among people with the least
education,” such as the case in the United States, Mr Thrasher stressed.

Dr Aditi Satti of the Temple University Health System in Philadelphia
and is not part of the study offered that “a picture is probably worth a
thousand words . . . (for) lower-income, less educated (patients).”

Putting strong images along with specific health warnings “get people at
least thinking about what the consequences of smoking cigarettes are. It
gets them in the contemplation state,” Mr Satti told USNews.

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