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  1. Tobacco Science & Research

Research Experimental Study of Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels

Principal Investigator: Matthew Farrelly and Conrad Choiniere

Funding Mechanism: Research Contract

ID number: HHSF223200910135G

Award Date: 5/6/2010

Institution: RTI


The Tobacco Control Act required nine new health warning statements on cigarette packages and advertising and directed FDA to issue regulations requiring color graphic images depicting the negative health consequences of smoking to accompany the nine warning statements. The objective of the study was to assess the labels’ effectiveness at conveying information about various health risks of smoking and at encouraging smoking cessation and discouraging smoking initiation. Study aims were: (1) to measure consumer attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and intended behaviors related to cigarette smoking in response to graphic warning labels; (2) to evaluate the relative efficacy of various graphic images associated with each of the nine warning statements for achieving each of the communication goals; and 3) determine whether consumer responses to graphic warning labels differ across target groups based on age or other demographic variables. The warning labels and images were tested with an online sample of 18,759 youth, young adults and adults in Fall 2010. Participants were exposed to either a cigarette package (entire sample) or advertisements (adult sample only) with one of the nine warning statements paired with one of the graphic images (treatment condition) or just the warning statement on packages (control condition) and were asked to respond to a series of questions immediately following exposure and one week later. Key outcomes measured included reactions to the warning statements, labels, and ads; recall of the statements, images, and ads; beliefs about health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke; emotional reactions; quit intentions; and self-reported likelihood of smoking in the next year (youth only). (Project completed in 2012.)