MIXED MESSAGES: FDA Proposes Graphic Anti-Smoking Messages On Cigarette Packs


NPR: Under the law, these warnings will have to appear on both the front and back of cigarette packs, taking up half the real estate on each side of the label. In big ads, they’re supposed to occupy at least 20 percent of the space. For smaller ads, there will be alternative anti-smoking messages with bright logos. Will they work? Some research shows that bold graphic warnings do a better job than text alone in communicating risks and affecting behavior. Other countries, such as Canada, have blazed this trail already. Yet, the scare tactics can sometimes backfire. One study that tested warnings on a bunch of smokers, who happened to be psychology students, found that when smoking was a big part of someone’s self-esteem, they weren’t deterred by warnings that cigarettes could kill them. In fact, paradoxically, the death warnings might make them want to smoke more. MORE

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