As part of an ongoing international study currently in 19 countries around the world, the ITC Project has released a report focusing on tobacco warning labels, prepared for World No Tobacco Day. The ITC report on warning labels concludes from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of text and pictorial warnings across many ITC countries that graphic pictorial warnings are more effective than text-only warnings.
Dr. Michael Cummings, chair of the Department of Health Behavior at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, recently interviewed three experts in the field of health warning labeling on tobacco products: Dr. David Hammond from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada; Dr. Maansi Bansal-Travers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, and Dr. Ron Borland from the Cancer Council Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. These researchers discuss the research that has been conducted in tobacco warning labels and the findings that show that large pictorial warning labels are the most cost-effective way for governments to educate smokers about the health risks from smoking and increase motivation to quit.
Specifically, graphic pictorial warnings: (a) are more noticeable and domonant than text warnings, (b) hightens awareness of about the harms of smoking, (c) motivates smokers to quit smoking.
The findings provide compelling evidence of the effectiveness of pictorial warnings and support the strong FCTC Article 11 Guidelines, adopted at the Third Conference of the Parties in November 2008, which call for pictorial warnings on at least 50% of the package.