Stick 'em up! Health warnings on individual cigarettes
New research shows adding health warnings to individual cigarette sticks is an effective way to reduce smoking rates, as the ‘shock value’ of graphic cigarette packet warnings is wearing off.
James Cook University’s Dr Aaron Drovandi led the research with the support of advisors from JCU’s College of Medicine and Dentistry. He said despite huge drops in tobacco use, smoking remains the largest preventable cause of mortality in Australia and is still the cause of death of an estimated 15,000 Australians per year.
“Improving the quality and volume of information that is out there is vital in ensuring that young people – who are very much the target market for cigarette companies - are deterred from smoking, and current smokers are aware of the danger," said Dr Drovandi.
His research involved questioning more than 2000 people on the effectiveness of various methods of anti-smoking warnings.
Dr Drovandi said novel warnings and messages on individual cigarette sticks were rated as significantly more effective than current packaging warnings.
"Effective alternative warnings relating to tobacco use, such as the 'minutes of life lost' per cigarette and the financial consequences of smoking can be printed onto individual cigarettes. This not only delivers key information on smoking, but also makes the cigarette less appealing,” he said.
Dr Drovandi said in the future, cigarette packaging and cigarette sticks should carry warnings about the short-term health and non-health related consequences of tobacco use.
“They proved to be the most engaging messages and most likely to elicit positive public health changes in the community,” he said.