A12.1.7 Public support for health warnings

Large pictorial warnings are credible and have high levels of public support.1

Warnings have proved popular in Canada,2,3 Thailand4 and Australia.1

A majority of US residents would support the introduction of Canadian-style graphic health warnings on tobacco products in the US.5 In Brazil, three months after the introduction of pictorial health warnings in 2002, 73% of smokers approved of them and 67% said the warnings made them want to quit. The impact was especially strong in those with low incomes and education.6 Two years after large pictorial warnings were introduced in Uruguay, 62% of adult smokers stated that they would like to see more information about health effects on the packet.7 Australian Government evaluation, conducted two years after graphic packet warnings were introduced, reported that 76% of non-smokers, 70% of long-term ex-smokers, 68% of recent quitters and 53% of smokers thought it was 'very important' that such warnings were in place.1 Supplementary work also found support for inclusion of the Quitline number prominently on packets.1 Data from the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation study in 2007 showed that 62% of Australian smokers thought the amount of information was about right and 25% would like more, leaving only 13% who thought it excessive (Borland 2008, personal communication).


1. Elliott and Shanahan Research. Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Graphic Health Warnings on Tobacco Product Packaging 2008. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing, 2009. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/F22B9115FD392DA5CA257588007DA955/$File/hw-eval-full-report.pdf

2. Hammond D, Fong G, McDonald P, Brown K and Cameron R. Graphic Canadian cigarette warning labels and adverse outcomes: evidence from Canadian smokers. American Journal of Public Health 2004;94(8):1442–5. Available from: http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/full/94/8/1442

3. Canadian Cancer Society. Canadians overwhelmingly support graphic cigarette warnings. Canadian Cancer Society, 2002. Available from: http://www.cancer.ca/english/MC_MR_02_apr1.asp

4. International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Survey. ITC South-East Asia Wave 2 Data. 2007.

5. Peters E, Romer D, Slovic P, Jamieson K, Wharfield L, Mertz C, et al. The impact and acceptability of Canadian-style cigarette warning labels among U.S. smokers and nonsmokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research 2007;9(4):473–81. Available from: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1080/14622200701239639

6. Costa e Silva VL, Presentation to EU Commission/Brussels on the enforcement of health warnings in Brazil. 2002.

7. International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Survey. ITC Uruguay Project, Wave 1 Data. 2006.