Adolescents’ Perceptions of an On-cigarette Health Warning

Moodie, Crawford; MacKintosh, Anne Marie; Gallopel-Morvan, Karine; Hastings, Gerard and Ford, Allison (2016). Adolescents’ Perceptions of an On-cigarette Health Warning. Nicotine & Tobacco Research pp. 1232–1237.

URL: http://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntw165

Abstract

Introduction
In most countries, health warnings have been on cigarette packs for decades. We explored adolescents’ perceptions of a health warning on cigarettes.
Methods
Data come from the 2014 wave of a cross-sectional in-home survey with 11- to 16-year olds (N = 1205) from across the UK, with participants recruited from the general population using random location quota sampling. Participants were shown an image of a standard cigarette which displayed the warning “Smoking kills” and asked whether they thought this would (not) put people off starting to smoke, (not) make people want to give up smoking, and whether all cigarettes should (not) have health warnings on them.
Results
Most (71%) thought that an on-cigarette warning would put people off starting, although this decreased with age. Never smokers were more likely than current smokers to think that it would put people off starting. Approximately half (53%) thought that an on-cigarette warning would make people want to give up smoking, with this higher for never smokers and experimenters/past smokers than for current smokers. Most (85%) supported a warning on all cigarettes. There was support among each smoking group, although this was higher for never smokers and experimenters/past smokers than for current smokers, and higher for those indicating that most of their close friends do not smoke than for those indicating that most of their close friends do smoke.
Conclusions
The perception among adolescents that an on-cigarette warning could deter smoking, and the high support for a warning on all cigarettes, warrants further research.
Implications
Research on dissuasive cigarettes is at a nascent stage. This is the first study to explore how adolescents perceive a health warning (“Smoking kills”) on cigarettes. Almost three quarters of participants indicated that on-cigarette health warnings would deter people from starting to smoke, and 85% supported the inclusion of a warning on all cigarettes. While further research is clearly needed, these findings suggest that the inclusion of health warnings on cigarettes is considered appropriate by young people and may have a dissuasive effect.

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